In this episode, we have our guest Aman Ailani from SAH.OL Cold Brew, who discusses the unique challenges and important metrics for a CPG brand and a food and beverage company. We also had a chance to discuss the secrets behind his company’s exponential growth in the Boston market. Finally, we touched on how LinkedIn has helped him raise awareness about his brand in a space where he competes with powerful brands like Starbucks.
- [0:00] Intro
- [2:41] Personal journey and current focus
- [3:20] Perspective on growth
- [4:00] How can FMCG businesses manage their cash better?
- [5:16] Why is Velocity KPI important for a CPG brand?
- [9:46] The current state of the sugar-free market of food and beverage industry
- [12:52] The manufacturing processes of a cold-brew facility
- [16:08] The differences in the manufacturing processes of the cold-brew industry
- [17:15] Sales and operations processes of a cold-brew business
- [19:50] How to test the MVP and collect the data to get initial customers?
- [22:13] The negotiation skills with retailers and distributors for product placement
- [27:23] how can a CPG brand use LinkedIn for their brand awareness?
- [30:15] Closing thoughts
- [32:18] Outro
- Velocity essentially just measures the speed or the rate at which your product is selling. So, for example, for us, so a case for us is 12 cans, 12 cans in one case, and for us, velocity looks like how fast are we selling a case?
- In the grocery industry, you know, numbers are everything margins are everything grocery stores operate on such razor-thin margins. So if you don’t handle those the right way, they can get away from you like really, really quick.
- By posting every day and by kind of letting people in behind the scenes of what it takes to run a CPG brand, I’m able to build really solid brand awareness through just vulnerability, being transparent.
- LinkedIn and TikTok are very similar in the sense that there’s a massive, massive content deficit on there. There are way more eyeballs, and there are thumbs, which is to say that there are more people looking at posts and actually posting, and there’s only 0.5% of people who are active on the LinkedIn post once a week. So organic reach is huge.
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Born and raised in Dubai, Aman Ailani grew up around a coffee culture. Arabian coffee pots, rich aromas of dark roast beans, and the sweet smell of dates filled every home he was in. While still very young and his company early-stage, he has already created a buzz about SAH.OL Cold Brew around Boston and social media, with a big expansion of distribution forecasted for 2021.
Aman Ailani 0:00
For a CPG brand, you know numbers are everything. Margins are everything. Grocery stores operate on such razor-thin margins. So if you don’t handle those the right way, they can get away from you really, really quick.
Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies. So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority. Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.
Sam Gupta 0:48
Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of The WBS podcast. I’m Sam Gupta, your host, and principal consultant at digital transformation consulting for ElevatIQ.
Growing a consumer packaged goods or CPG brand is uniquely challenging. Not only will you need a product that consumers are willing to pay for, but you’ll also be required to win over your distributors and partners. Even if you succeed in developing your customers’ channels, you might still feel if you can figure out how to manage your supply chain and cash flow.
In today’s episode, we have a guest, Aman Ailani from SAH.OL cold brew who discusses the unique challenges and important metrics for a CPG brand and a food and beverage company. We also had a chance to discuss the secrets behind his company’s exponential growth in the past. Finally, we touched on how LinkedIn has helped him raise awareness about his brand in a space where he competes with powerful brands like Starbucks.
Let me introduce Aman to you.
Born and raised in Dubai, Aman Ailani grew up around a coffee culture Arabian coffee pots, rich aromas of dark roast beans, and the sweet smell of data with every home he was in. While still very young and his company early-stage, he has already created a buzz about the whole cold brew around Boston and social media with the expansion of distribution forecasted for 2021.
With that, let’s get to the conversation.
Hey, welcome to the show, Aman. Hey, Sam. Thanks for having me. Really excited to be here. Okay, amazing. So to kick things off, I would like to start with your personal story, as well as what you’re focusing on these days.
Aman Ailani 2:41
Yeah, for sure. So my name is Aman Ailani. I was born and raised in Dubai in the United United Arab Emirates. And I lived there for the first 17 years of my life. Then I came over to America in 2016 for college, had a really, really good experience in college at Bentley University, just outside of Boston, studied entrepreneurship. I played on the golf team there. And yeah, I started my cold brew coffee company.
Sam Gupta 3:04
So before we get deeper into that, and I obviously have a ton of questions about your introduction. But one question that we ask everyone is going to be your perspective on growth? What does growth mean to you, Aman?
Aman Ailani 3:20
Yeah, I was really excited to be here and talk about this. So for us, and you know, the CPG brand, FMCG industry, growth can be seen as this big thing, you know like you’re at every supermarket, every grocery store, every round of the country. But the reality is, and the honest truth is that for smaller businesses, for emerging brands, that can honestly be really dangerous sometimes. And for me, for our company, right now, growth looks like just being slow, being strategic, taking our time and making sure we have our finances, and we have our money in the right place before we, you know, just blitz scale and get super big all of a sudden.
Sam Gupta 4:00
So that’s a very interesting perspective. I have not heard that before. So when you say it could be dangerous for a CPG brand, my assumption is going to be you are speaking more in line towards spending way too much and then running out of cash. Right. So how do you typically plan in a way that you are not burning yourself out?
Aman Ailani 4:19
Yeah, I think I think for us, so just a little background on our product. So we make cold brew coffee. And so it’s like an iced coffee, and it can, and they’re sold in grocery stores. So just for us, you know, it could be really easy for us to pump a whole ton of cash into, you know, brokers merchandisers, distributors and get our product into 5000 stores in the first year.
But then, if we don’t have the ability or the finances to then support that place within those stores within the first year, you know, that’s not really going to be doing much for us.
So for our growth, specifically within the CPG brand space, is really just going Slowly about it and making sure that we’re taking one step at a time in the right order. And for right now, that looks like starting in, you know, about 20 stores just here in New England, measuring our velocity, measuring our data, and then using that to our advantage to grow in the right way.
Sam Gupta 5:16
Okay, so velocity is a very important term that you mentioned that, and I have read you talk about that on your LinkedIn profile as well. So what is velocity when it comes to a CPG brand? Could you touch a bit on that?
Aman Ailani 5:30
Yeah, for sure. So basically, velocity essentially just measures the speed or the rate at which your product is selling. So, for example, for us, so a case for us is 12 cans, 12 cans in one case, and for us, velocity looks like how fast are we selling a case? You know, so apparently, that number is between nine and 14 days, it takes us to sell one case, which is really good for the coffee space, but specifically, the perishable product space, which is the broader category in which we operate in.
So that’s really important for us. And basically, a higher philosophy, the quicker it is, the more frequently that grocery stores have to reorder your product, the better it looks, because it shows that you’re a fast-moving product. It shows that people are not just buying it, but they’re returning for more. So that’s just one of the many, many reasons that philosophy, specifically case velocity, is so so important for us.
Sam Gupta 6:21
Okay, interesting. So I don’t know, you know, where you are in terms of your growth journey. And I don’t know how much revenue you are doing at this point in time. But when you measure the velocity, how are you measuring? What is your system landscape? Like? Are you doing the accounting on QuickBooks? Do you have any systems in place at this point in time to measure your KPIs? How are you running your operations?
Aman Ailani 6:45
Absolutely, absolutely. So QuickBooks is really important for us. In the grocery industry, you know, numbers are everything margins are everything grocery stores operate on such razor-thin margins. So if you don’t handle those the right way, they can get away from you like really, really quick.
So that’s just one way that we measure what we’re doing. But specifically, also, another way we do it is just through our relationships with grocery stores, with our distributor, stuff like that, you know, the more information we can get from them, the better it usually is. So they’re really kind to us. And they provide us with a lot of really solid, solid information on, you know, how our product is selling in one store and wide channel. And at what velocity, which is the most important part.
Sam Gupta 7:29
Okay, interesting. So when you talk about these different stores, are these mom-and-pop stores? Are you at the big brand stores at this point in time? Can you touch your customer landscape? If you don’t mind? You don’t have to name them. But just tell me, you know, how many big stores do you have? How many mom-and-pop stores?
Aman Ailani 7:47
Yeah, absolutely. So, we’re in around 15 stores in the New England area right now. We’ve only launched for about two and a half months. So we are very, very new to the market. But we were able to grow really quickly that in that span of time. Currently, our target accounts are natural food stores, organic food stores, co-op grocery stores. We aren’t in any big-box retailers yet. But that’s definitely an avenue and a route that we want to go down in the future. So I will say organic natural food stores and kind of like the higher-end grocery stores are our target market right now.
Sam Gupta 8:20
Okay, interesting. And where did this idea come from? For the cold-brew? Do you have any background in coffee? Does your family have any background in coffee? How did you come with this idea for cold brew?
Aman Ailani 8:33
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, so I actually never drank coffee until my freshman year in college. I was staying up late one night, very early on my first few weeks, and I needed something to keep me going. I needed a way to stay awake to study, and I had nothing available to me.
So I go to the vending machine, and I grab one of those refrigerated like frappe a type cold brews. And I opened it up a drink, and it’s so much sugar in it that I, you know, the coffee doesn’t even work. I have a sugar crash.
So I think okay like there has to be a way to solve this. So I buy my own cold brew maker, actually. And I take it back home with me to Dubai. They started visiting local coffee shops, local roasters, and I started making my own cold brew, which I do for the next four years.
And over the course of those four years, I basically learned the ins and outs of coffee, cold brew, and everything there is to it for my senior year. This is where we actually have to start and launch our own businesses in order to graduate. So my professor looks at me, and he goes, you make that you make the cold, right, that coffee and I go Yeah, and he goes, Well, I don’t just put that in a can. So I started talking to manufacturers, I started talking to producers, and one thing led to another, and here we are today in about 15 stores across Boston.
Sam Gupta 9:46
Okay, so tell me a little bit about you know, obviously there are a lot of different cold brews, and you mentioned that sugar is one of the factors. That could be your differentiator, but you know, the coffee market, in my opinion, could be crowded, right. So how are you differentiating yourself in the market?
Aman Ailani 10:03
For sure, for sure, it’s a really competitive landscape, especially in the grab-and-go beverages and single-serve. But the biggest thing we have going for us is really the fact that we’re all-natural. So we don’t have any preservatives, we have no additives, we have no sugar, and no dairy. We are gluten-free, zero carbs are on sale product is zero calories. And the only two ingredients, have our coffee grinds and filtered water.
So it’s a really natural process. And that’s kind of the biggest thing we have going for us. But also another thing that we really leverage is the fact that we’re a local independent brand. I think our consumers and our target audience really resonate with that. They realize that when they buy our product when they drink our coffee, they’re supporting a local brand. And yeah, we appreciate that support. And that’s a big reason why we’ve we’ve come so far.
Sam Gupta 10:49
Interesting. So when you say local brand, does that mean the local brand from New England? Because when we were talking about your brand name in the pre-show, it has the Irish meaning. So typically, when you talk about local brands, I have seen some of the Canadian brands here, and they would probably have the Canadian flag. So how are you communicating your local values?
Aman Ailani 11:11
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. Yeah, we’re local, we’re local to New England, that’s kind of our thing. That’s kind of what we do. We communicate local values, mostly with our retail partnerships. So a lot of the stores that we link up with a lot of the partners that we have, they’re all local stores, you know, they support other local products. And, yeah, we make that really clear on social media, and we make that really clear, and everything that we do through our marketing efforts.
Sam Gupta 11:36
Okay. Interesting. So, since you mentioned that the preservatives, right, and that seems to be the key factor in your product. So how does that differ from the manufacturing perspective? And why the other brands that we have in the market? You know, for example, Starbucks, I’m pretty sure you are probably competing with them, too, right? So why are they not able to do what you are doing? That is number one? And number two is how is your manufacturing process going to change? Just because you are not using any preservatives?
Aman Ailani 12:08
Yeah. Well, I think Starbucks is doing a lot of things right for them to get as big as they’ve gotten. I think Starbucks, you know, is really practical and a lot of things, but how we differentiate ourselves is really just through the way that we roast and we brew our coffee. So our coffee is low, said more on the lighter side. You know, it’s not a dark roast at all. It’s very fruity, floral, it’s very chocolatey, which is what our consumers really, really love. So that’s something that’s working really well for us. And from the manufacturing side, you know, not too different. They were a lot smaller manufacturing-wise. But we make the most of that, and we really maximize our dollars.
Sam Gupta 12:52
Okay, so, from the process perspective, I would like to, you know, dig deeper into that. So from your facility, if I take a tour of your facility, walk me through your facility, how that is going to look like? Is it going to have just a brewer or grinder? Do you have commercial grinders right now? Do you not have commercial grinders? So how’s your manufacturing facility at this point in time?
Aman Ailani 13:12
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. So for a CPG brand, there’s, there’s something known as contract Packers or contract packaging. And basically what that is, is instead of, you know, owning your own facilities and buying your own equipment, you are paying another company that already has facilities to make your product, and you pay them on a flat rate per piece basis. So that’s what we do.
That’s the biggest reason we’ve been able to stay so lean. You’ve been able to stay honestly profitable from such an early point is. We haven’t invested massive amounts of capital into equipment. So just a high overview of what the facility that we currently work out of looks like. We obviously have big brewing. That’s where our coffee actually gets brewed. Coffee is ground, and that’s put in there, and it’s steeped with cold water.
But apart from that, we also have a full canning line, which is where you know, the actual coffee gets filled into cans, the label gets put on the can lid is applied, and then it’s kind of like a shot out into like a tray where it’s been packed into 12 packs. So it’s honestly pretty basic. Another big, big thing is water filtration. That’s really important and good coffee, and good property starts with good water. So our filtered water is pretty big and what we do, and yeah, it’s a super, super neat process.
Sam Gupta 14:32
And, you know, we wanted to talk about the manufacturing process. So obviously, we spoke about different collaborators that you mentioned, and you mentioned about, you mentioned about your contract packaging company. So I’m simply looking for information number one that is flowing back and forth, the inventory that is going back and forth, and how your manufacturing process looks. Do you have the job order at the start of your manufacturing process? And do you have the finished goods towards the end? So walk me through the entire manufacturing process.
Aman Ailani 15:08
Yeah, absolutely. So So our coffee is made with a blend of Central South American and African beans. Those beans are obviously roasted to the appropriate roast level and then ground after their ground. Coffee Beans are then put in a massive container. And it’s filled with cold water. So the coffee and the water, they kind of mix, and it kind of just sit there for 24 hours.
And then that resulting liquid essentially is what our actual product is. So that’s what cold brew is. Its coffee grinds steeped in cold water for 24 hours. So that liquid is put through a canning line. And obviously, Cans flow through the line. So the can comes in, it gets filled, the lid gets added, it gets labeled, and then it shoots out where it’s then packed into trays with 12 cans each. So it’s a super, super quick process. But the actual brewing takes over close to 24 hours to make sure that it’s the right level.
Sam Gupta 16:08
Okay, so when you did your research, I’m pretty sure you compared your CPG brand with, you know, the other manufacturing verticals. So how was the brewing different from the other manufacturing verticals that you compared?
Aman Ailani 16:20
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, when we, when we’re looking to start this, we shopped around, and we talked to a couple of different contract manufacturers, we essentially just landed on the one that we did, mostly more than anything, just because of the relationship that we had, the conversation just flowed easier, I was able to trust them a lot more.
So as far as verticals go, you know, this was pretty much the only way that cold brew can be made, especially the way that we wanted it. But the eventual CPG brand that we settled on, solely because of the relationship and they’ve been amazing to work with, especially in our industry, you know, it’s the relationship is everything, everything from you know, demand to forecast, planning to actual execution, storage, and then obviously getting the product out to stores, they’ve been just rock stars in the whole process. And I can’t thank them enough. So that relationship is really crucial. And it’s the biggest reason we went with them.
Sam Gupta 17:15
Okay, so when you were exploring these vendors, and sometimes, you know, it could be a challenging relationship to manage, right? Because I don’t know, you know, how much volume you have? How much volume are there other customers have, right? And probably you are going to be a small fish. And I don’t know, again, how big this manufacturer is.
So how do you manage the expectation, especially if you are getting a lot of different bulk orders from your customers, and you have to deliver on time? If you don’t deliver, then you lose the customer? So it’s sort of the double-edged sword there. Right. How do you manage that?
Aman Ailani 17:48
Yeah. I think it just comes down to communication, right. So right from the beginning, I let them know. And I think they were very appreciative. I was like, Look. I’m not going to be your biggest customer by any means. But we haven’t a really solid base of accounts, and we’re going to have a really great distributor. So essentially, we just deal with one large purchase order at a time that goes straight to a distributor, and then the distributor, then essentially distributes it to the store.
So we don’t supply like one case at a time. But we do one massive order. And then the distributor kind of like parcels that out just stores as and when they need it. So that was honestly a big part of it, just making our communication, just very clear with them from the beginning saying, we’re going to be consistent, we’re going to be great, we’re going to hold up our end of the bargain, but this is what you’re getting from us. And they really appreciated it. And they’ve been, like I said, just amazing to work with.
Sam Gupta 18:40
Okay, amazing. And I mean, based on the amount of duration that you mentioned, you have actually made phenomenal progress here, in my opinion, okay, if it is really the work of when happens. That’s impressive. So let’s say if we’re in the ecommerce merchant, and I probably want to start my own CPG brand, okay, and I’m actually trying to set up all of these, these channels, and customers as well. So, where would you recommend me starting?
Aman Ailani 19:08
Um, I think the biggest thing is, once you have a product that you think can really do something, and once you have a product, do you think customers are willing to open their wallets and actually purchase? The biggest thing is testing it. So one thing we did is we did a small test for our CPG brand.
So basically, we made 70 cases. And then I hit up 70 of my friends, 70 people, and I asked them to buy one case each and let me know that though, once I knew that, okay, the majority of the people liked the product, think this is good, what actually buy this. Then we went ahead and started talking to grocery stores and started getting into stores. But by far, the biggest thing is just testing your assumptions, which is really, really common in the startup space.
Sam Gupta 19:50
Well, so I’m actually going to challenge you on that, okay. You know, testing, testing with your friends is not really a good test, to be honest. Okay. The reason for that is because they are going to be nice to you, they are going to probably, I mean, and this is not a very expensive product, right? So they should be willing to take out, let’s say, five or $10, or whatever your coffees cost, right. So it’s a good test. I mean, you can’t actually do your demand forecasting based on a past that has been on friends. So yeah. How would you overcome that?
Aman Ailani 20:24
Absolutely. And I’ll be honest with you, you know, I wish I wish we didn’t have to do it just on friends. But I launched during COVID. And I don’t think it would have been appropriate to stand outside a grocery store and ask people to talk to me as at a grocery store.
But no, I completely agree. You know that was definitely a risky test if you want to call it. But look, the long-term big picture is paid off. Because the information that we gathered from that, even if it was from my friends, you know, it’s paid off, we see great velocity for our CPG brand, you know, we’re in, like you said, We’ve had great growth, we’ve, it’s paid off, basically. So if I had to go back, would I test again on my friends? Probably not. But I didn’t really have another option at that time. And I think that’s better than nothing.
Sam Gupta 21:08
Interesting. So what was the next step? So okay, so in this case, maybe you got lucky or whatever, you know, I would not recommend anybody testing on their friends for their CPG brand. But yeah, you had your challenges with respect to COVID, which is completely understandable. Right? So what was the next natural step? So when you put this on grocery stores, based on the test that you have done with your friends? Did you select any specific store? Did you have any data to support? Which stores do you want to go after? What was that process like?
Aman Ailani 21:37
For sure, for sure, so our product, you know, just the nature of it, sugar-free, dairy-free, natural product, it performs best in natural food stores. So yes, we can go, you know, to the big stores like Walmart, Costco, and you know, we’re gonna see amazing. I’m sure we would have seen amazing returns there. But getting into those stores, as you might know, can be expensive and can be costly for a young startup brand. So the biggest, the biggest kind of store we tried to go after was just natural, you know, organic food stores, health shops. And that’s where even to this day, we see our most successful.
Sam Gupta 22:13
Okay, interesting. So when you interacted with these guys, what were some of the questions that they asked? Because obviously, they didn’t know you, they didn’t know your CPG brand, right? And they must be pitched by a lot of different brands. So what were some of the initial questions that he got?
Aman Ailani 22:25
Yeah. Such a typical buyer. So we talked to grocery buyers, and a typical buyer pitch, you know, you start off, you give a little background on your CPG brand, you will let them know who you distributed product with? And then the next natural question is, how much is your product? Like? How much do we pay to get it? How many cans come into a case? You know, what promotional offers? What do you guys do? What marketing support do you do? And essentially a lot of generic questions. But to cut through that noise, what they’re really asking is, can we trust you? I think the biggest thing buyers want to know is your this CPG brand that we are going to bring in. We are going to give you shelf space. We’re going to put you in a position where you can sell it. But can we actually trust you? So essentially, to cut through all that noise? Is it just asking, prove to me that we can trust you, and building that trust is is very important?
Sam Gupta 23:15
So okay, so that’s very interesting because I would like to know a little bit more about that. So how do you build trust in the case of a food product? Right? Because it could be a huge risk for them. You could be anybody, and you could be selling anything? And because of that, there could be a life-threatening situation, right? So let’s say if I’m the buyer, and if I have never bought anything from you, how would you build that trust?
Aman Ailani 23:39
Yeah, and honestly, you know, well, from a high level, the manufacturing facility that we have, you know, we’re on amazing terms with the FDA, which is what is you have a great place to start. But that’s never come up. What’s actually come up is prove to me that by putting your CPG brand on the shelf, it’s going to sell, like, prove to me that I’m not, I’m not silly for giving you a shot. And honestly, the first store is the hardest to convince. But then after that, what we can do is we can just use the data that we have the sales data that we have with velocity data we have and just use those KPIs to pitch to other stores. And to be very frank with you, it’s pitching to our 10th store and getting to our 10th store was way easier than getting to our first or the first one was really the biggest one to overcome.
Sam Gupta 24:27
Yeah, it’s always like that. Yeah. The first one is always difficult because you don’t have data. You don’t have to set a CPG brand. You don’t have a champion who can really communicate for you. Right. So yeah, I agree that the first one is definitely going to be difficult. So what were some of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome other than sales?
Aman Ailani 24:49
Um, I’m trying to think. I honestly think just big picture. The biggest thing to overcome was the fact that I was a 21-year-old boy at the time. I’m 22 now, but I was a 21-year-old boy. He was trying to take this big risk. And you know, try to convince them that I should be the next guy they should be getting a chance to. That was, that was definitely the hardest thing. I got overlooked a lot. A lot of people wouldn’t work with me just because they said I had no experience with a CPG brand. But I was willing to build that experience, you know, and everyone has to start somewhere. So I was just really grateful for the first few people that gave me a shot and gave me an opportunity to show what I can do.
Sam Gupta 25:28
Yeah, and that could be a very difficult situation because I was in your shoes, what, 20 years ago? Yeah, it was very hard to convince. Okay, tell me what you have done.
Aman Ailani 25:39
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it’s, it’s, it’s so true. You know, like, guys come to you with that question, or grocery buyers come to you that question, like, there are all these we carry for big-name brands? Or why should they give you a chance, you know, like, there’s no guarantee that he will sell as much as they do? And I say, you know, that’s right, there is no guarantee. But by taking a chance on me, you know, you’re placing your bet on something that could become the next big thing in the world of coffee. So it’s been really fun trying to explore that and just continuing to overcome, you know, all these obstacles.
Sam Gupta 26:09
Okay, amazing. So I don’t know if you are invested at this point in time, you know, do you have any investors backing you? How much was the capital that you had to secure? And again, you don’t need to be specific. I’m simply trying to get a ballpark here. Let’s say somebody is trying to start the coffee business. What should they keep in mind?
Aman Ailani 26:29
Yeah, I think there’s this real notion, especially on LinkedIn, and you know, other things that all you see are these big brands that raise $5-$10 million, and they go after the big retailers, but I’m gonna be very honest with you, we’ve put in very, very little money, we have not raised investor money. You know, it’s family-backed, his family-owned. So without getting into specifics, like it’s an average production run, it wouldn’t not be costing you more than $2,000. Like, it wouldn’t cost you more than one to $2,000 to make a full, like a full run of production. But we’ve had to be really smart with our money, you know, we get pitched a lot of services, we get pitched a lot of things, people try to convince us that we need this, we need that. And the honest truth is that you don’t think what you really need is a good sales pitch, you need a solid product, and you need numbers in place to show that your product is selling. And that’s what we’ve been able to do. Yes, we are growing a little slower than some of the bigger brands. But we’re growing, you know, and we’re taking one step after another. And I’m really excited to see how how the future goes.
Sam Gupta 27:23
Okay, interesting. And I noticed that you are very active on LinkedIn as well. And that is definitely one of the areas where I like to focus during my podcasts interviews because, obviously, LinkedIn could be powerful. So tell me why you are on LinkedIn. That is number one. And number two, what is your biggest channel in terms of revenue? Obviously, stores out there? But are you able to recruit some of these stores from LinkedIn? Or are they coming to you from the website or personal interaction? Tell me, you know, how are your revenue channels set up? And where are you acquiring them?
Aman Ailani 28:08
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll answer the second question. First, all of our revenue basically comes from the stores that work with our distributor. So our distributor has, you know, a massive list of stores that they service. And we basically, through that list, we’re able to get, you know, pitch our product to a store that we know that they already use our distributors. So that’s the biggest one that’s brick-and-mortar sales. And then LinkedIn, have we made any sales because of LinkedIn? Not really, probably not. But the biggest thing that LinkedIn does is it helps us to develop our brand awareness. You know, being a startup brand, being a younger brand, we don’t have the same national reputation that other brands do. So by posting every day and by, you know, kind of letting people in behind the scenes of what it takes to run a CPG brand, I’m able to build really solid brand awareness through just vulnerability, being transparent. And to be fully honest, like we go, I give away all our secrets on a day. Apart from our gross margins and unit economics, you can find out everything that I’ve ever needed to figure out about my brand on my LinkedIn. So just being transparent has really helped us, and you know, we’ve received a nice following, and people are tuning in to my posts. So that’s, that’s pretty cool. Right?
Sam Gupta 29:19
So you mentioned that you don’t have the measurable ROI from LinkedIn, but you do believe that LinkedIn is somehow helping you. So let’s say the folks who are not on LinkedIn. What would be your recommendation for them?
Aman Ailani 29:35
Absolutely. You know, there’s LinkedIn and TikTok are very similar in the sense that there’s a massive, massive content deficit on there. You know, there are way more eyeballs, and there are thumbs, which is to say that there are more people looking at posts and actually posting, you know, and there’s only 0.5% of people who are active on the LinkedIn post once a week. So organic reach is huge. And I think that if you just show up and If you just start talking and if you just start sharing your experiences, you know, it doesn’t even have to be deep. It doesn’t have to be insightful or analytical. Just start sharing your experiences connect with people from the industry and, you know, the greater industry with which you’re part. And I think you can really see some pretty cool things happen.
Sam Gupta 30:15
Okay, man. So that’s pretty much it for today. Do you have any last-minute closing thoughts?
Aman Ailani 30:20
Yeah, I’d love to. I’d love to just encourage people that if they’re thinking of starting a business, it’s all talk, and it’s all noise until you actually started doing it. So you know, if there is that idea you have in your head, just take one actionable step to put it down on paper. And I think that you know, the natural course of events and natural food events can only happen after that. So take one actionable step to launch your business.
Sam Gupta 30:47
That’s great advice. I would say for the newer entrepreneurs, and that’s going to help a lot. And your insight is going to help a lot as well. So I thank you for your time and insight. Yeah, thanks, Sam. It was great being with you. I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up learnings from our guests, and hopefully, you learned something new today. If you want to learn more about Aman or SAH.OL, head over to sipsahol.com. Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.
If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business. You might want to check other related episodes, including the interview with Brian Burke from sellyourmac.com, who touches on his growth secrets, and how they became the fastest-growing company on INC 5000 3x times. Also, the interview with Corey Warfield from CoryConnects, where he discussed how to hack LinkedIn algorithms and grow your company using LinkedIn strategies.
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