Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 7

From visionary to venture capitalist
Diagnosed with dyslexia, Mr. Rahal
endured challenges and adversity throughout school and at entry-level jobs. However,
the strengths associated with the condition
- strong pattern recognition, deductive
reasoning, creative thinking - add up
to a knack for identifying marketplace
opportunities and solving problems. Many
of history's most prolific entrepreneurs,
including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford,
were dyslexic.
Those inherent skills, combined
with his firsthand expertise of building a
thriving food business, add tremendous
value to the transaction, according to his
business partners.
"Money isn't terribly hard to come by,
but operating experience is," said Alison
Cayne, founder of Haven's Kitchen in New
York. "What I really needed, more than
cash, were investors that knew what it was
like to build something from scratch and

RXBAR:
A 'no B.S.' history
2012

2014

Dissatisfied with the quality
of protein bars in the marketplace, Peter Rahal and Jared
Smith develop a recipe for
CrossFitters, who avoid dairy,
grains, soy and refined sugar.

Rather than raise capital, Mr.
Rahal and Mr. Smith sell bars.
Hundreds of them, online and
in CrossFit gyms.

2015

The brand launches new
packaging featuring a
RXBAR debuts with six or
minimalist design and listing
fewer ingredients, including
of ingredients on the front
egg whites, dates, nuts and
panel. Three egg whites, six
natural flavors. The bars were almonds, four cashews, two
produced in Mr. Rahal's parents' dates, no B.S.
suburban Chicago basement,
brandishing labels that were
designed using PowerPoint.

2013

January 7, 2020

refrigerated overnight
oats, described
Mr. Rahal as "an incredibly kind mentor."
"I don't like to spend
other peoples' money, so
- Ashley Thompson, founder of Mush I've always had a strong
aversion to outside capital,"
she said. "I knew our business was ready for a true
partner when I gained enough confidence
that it wouldn't be prudent or realistic to
to execute on what I knew was a viable
open too many doors too fast."
business from a product, margin and brand
Haven's Kitchen is a recreational
perspective. I needed to feel certain that I
cooking school, cafe and private event
was emotionally mature enough to handle
space. In early 2018, the company
risking other peoples' money for my vision."
launched a line of refrigerated, globally
Available in more than 3,500 reinspired sauces that are sold in 300 retail
tailers, Mush Overnight Oats features a
outlets in 22 states. Expanding distribucreamy texture and contains seven or fewtion nationwide would require capital,
operations and supply chain advice, and a er plant-based ingredients, including oats,
almonds and fruit. The product is prolittle moral support, Ms. Cayne said.
cessed with high-pressure technology to
"When I first met Peter and Jarpreserve flavor and shelf life and packaged
ed, they asked me questions about my
business in a way that didn't make me feel with a spoon for portable consumption.
Ms. Thompson had abandoned a
defensive," she said. "It wasn't, 'How fast
budding Wall Street career with Goldman
can you get to $10 million in sales?' They
Sachs to start the company in 2015. A
understand the uniqueness of what I'm
couple years later, she and co-founder Kat
building and appreciate the complexities
Thomas appeared on the television show
of it. They leveled the playing field from
the first conversation - never making me "Shark Tank" to pitch a piece of the business to the panel of investors. Mark Cuban
feel like I was lucky to have them. Peter
offered $300,000 for a 10% stake.
will text with me before an important
Upon meeting Mr. Rahal, Ms. Thompmeeting or call to boost my confidence
son said, "It was quite apparent to me that
and help me organize my thoughts."
we share a similar value system and temAshley Thompson, the founder of
peraments. He speaks the same language
Mush Foods, a brand of ready-to-eat,
and can relate to just about anything I say.
What more could you want in a partner on
a lonely journey that is entrepreneurship?"
Another important factor in partnering with Mr. Rahal, she said, was his
attitude about money.
"He doesn't care about the money in
the same way venture capital/private equity
2016
2018
does," Ms. Thompson said. "Professional
RXBAR gains national
The brand expands beyond
distribution and becomes the
protein bars with the introduc- investors are just that - professional. They
get paid to make money with money. Peter's
fastest growing nutrition bar
tion of RX Nut Butters, which
an entrepreneur. His incentives are more conbrand, tripling year-over-year
contain a blend of egg whites,
revenues.
almonds or peanuts and dates. ducive to long-term gains, which makes them
aligned with my own. This was huge for me."
Mr. Rahal doesn't think of himself as
2017
2019
Kellogg Co. acquires the
RX A.M. Oats launch, featuring an investor but as a resource and advocate
for start-ups. He frequently fields questions
company for $600 million.
egg white protein, almonds,
from founders. Whether or not he's preUnder terms of the transaction, dates and oats in single-serve
pared to strike a deal, he is eager to support
RXBAR continues to operate
cups. Mr. Rahal shifts into
people like himself - gritty yet humble.
independently in Chicago with a founder's role to focus on
"My long-term goal is to eventually
Mr. Rahal as chief executive
innovation and strategy.
start another business," he said. "I need
officer.
time, and I like to help, so this is a good
thing in the interim." ▪
RXBAR

at a public company,
managing that, seeing
all that.
"So, I have
unique experience
that I can help shed
light and help entrepreneurs look around
corners to avoid mistakes simply through
my experience."

'Professional investors are just that -
professional. They get paid to make
money with money. Peter's an
entrepreneur.'

Food Business News

7



Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020

Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Food Entrepreneur gives vibrant start-up community its own stage
Peter Rahal’s Next Venture
Into the "Cannabyss"
Inside the Incubator Village
Lisa Curtis Founder and chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli
News
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Food Entrepreneur gives vibrant start-up community its own stage
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Peter Rahal’s Next Venture
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Into the "Cannabyss"
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Inside the Incubator Village
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 11
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 12
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Lisa Curtis Founder and chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 14
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - News
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 16
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