How This Vegan Popsicle Startup Landed Customers Like Google and Bloomingdale’s
Three guys named David are changing the shape of the popsicle landscape. It started when they went in cold.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
But first, it convinced major brands like Patrn, BuzzFeed, and Beats by Dre. Thanks to 3-D printing, Dream Pops can shape its frozen confections into almost any form, including those companies' logos and products. A bit of a marketing gimmick? Maybe. But it worked.
Now in the business of molding "branded moments" for about a year-and-a-half, Dream Pops has a punny mission (changing "pop" culture) and a catchy, perfectly descriptive tag line (anything is popsicle). But like all fledglings, the three co-founders named David--Greenfeld, Cohen, and Marx--had to start where they were. And they had to do what most founders have to do at some point. They went in cold.
Here are six takeaways from how they successfully turned cold pitches into done deals:
1. Look around, even when you're not on the clock. (And use what you find to just jump in.)
CEO and Co-Founder David Greenfeld was traveling in Colombia and noticed beautiful paletas. The street popsicles were everywhere at the same time everyone back in the States was in the juice cleanse craze. Lovely frozen desserts plus health-conscious American consumers equaled a plant-based confection concept. Then an investment analyst accustomed to crunching numbers on business segments, Greenfeld noticed there was an opportunity in popsicles, and took further inspiration from ice cream innovation in Europe when his firm posted him to the Milan office. He spent a year there as an investment banking associate in consumer and retail mergers and acquisitions. He knew business, but didn't know food science, and so read up on his own time.
2. Be politely persistent.
Scoping out the most inventive corners of Europe's culinary scene, Greenfeld found his would-be co-founder David Marx on a food blog. Marx's tinkering with ice cream's possibilities in his Berlin food lab, Science Kitchen, inspired Greenfeld. Cold emails--10 in total-- went unanswered. Greenfeld persisted, eventually got Marx's number and continued calling until they could speak. He was persuasive enough to get Marx on board as Co-Founder and Chief Scientist. The company was founded in August 2016, with David Cohen as a third Co-Founder. Cohen acts as Chief Popsicle Hustler (yes, real title). Juan Amador joined as Advisor and Consulting Chef.
3. Don't be afraid to go in cold.
It's just not true that you need to already know someone to get a foot in the door. One of Dream Pops' advisors did have an existing relationship with Casamigos, creating an important early partnership. But future opportunities came from good old-fashioned cold email, sent via LinkedIn. Premium membership allows you to look more deeply at companies and individuals, and to email strangers.
Greenfeld took advantage, emailing brands that he believed he could augment with his experiential marketing treats. He calls LinkedIn "the most undervalued asset on the planet." Here's the caveat: Individualize those emails. Make it specific to that brand.
4. Tailor every pitch.
Yes, it's good to have one deck ready to go, and always have your elevator speech locked and loaded. But different brands have different goals, and if you're going to ride the momentum of a carefully crafted identity, be ready to explain what you alone can do for a company's own marketing strategy, and how you share the same demographic.
Greenfeld developed a deck for each brand he wanted to partner with, showing the strategic value of experiential design, and demonstrated how his popsicles' appeal would fit with his target firm's consumers.
5. Don't underestimate the power of the herd.
When you do tailor your pitch, mention the other big names that believed in you.
Greenfeld's cold InMail to Google showcased the Casamigos partnership and linked to a flattering Vogue article. That Google relationship proved valuable down the line. DreamPops has now worked with Bumble, Soul Cycle, BuzzFeed, Equinox, TOMS, Bloomingdale's, and Lululemon.
6. Know your demographic.
Seems obvious, but it matters with millennials because they are markedly different from earlier generations in their consumption patterns. Two important trends across age groups, experiences over material things and health and wellness focus, are more so for those born between 1980 and 2000.
Physical possessions last longer, but research shows that it's actually fleeting moments that create lasting happiness. A 2016 report by Goldman Sachs found that millennials just don't buy as much as previous generations, but they share more. That is, they're experience-oriented more than acquisition-oriented.
The same Goldman Sachs report also tallied millennials as the largest generation in history, at 2.3 billion strong worldwide. Because of their health and wellness buying patterns, Sachs projected the health food market to hit $1.1 trillion in 2019.