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Minimal Snacks

Minimal Snacks is a pet project of mine, and a startup I've bootstrapped. Since mid 2019, I've been developing an innovative superfood jerky with just four ingredients: grass-fed beef, shiitake mushrooms, apple cider vinegar, and salt. It's been a long struggle of entrepreneurship, but we're now partnered with the biggest biltong copacker in the US and gearing up to launch soon.

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Skills

Design Research, Innovation Strategy, Idea Development, Brand Design, Entrepreneurship

Product

Minimal Snacks​

Year

2019​ (ongoing)

 
 
 
 

Modern foods don't come from the natural world anymore.

 

They're highly processed and packed with unpronounceable chemical ingredients. I saw the beef jerky industry as particularly outdated and ripe for disruption.

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15g sugar

28 ingredients, including:

Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Caramel Color, “Natural Flavors”, Cultured Dextrose, Lactic Acid, Green Tea Extract, Mustard Oil, Anchovies

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14g sugar

15 ingredients, including:

“Flavors”, Wheat, Soybeans, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Pineapple Powder.

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I conducted a category analysis on 129 different jerkies and 53 different biltongs (South-African air-dried jerky), paying particular attention to nutrition labels and ingredient lists. I also interviewed over 50 people, including grocery store owners, regenerative farmers, strict carnivores, strict vegans, the Kraft Heinz Whitespace Innovation Director and the CEOs of Farmhouse Culture, Kalahari Biltong and Mezcla Bar.

When I feel hungry
between meals,

I want to eat a snack with ingredients I truly understand,

so I can feel satiated without feeling guilty.

 
 

The job to be done

Just use fewer ingredients. Isn't it obvious?

 

I found that snacks with an intriguing and powerful taste require a lot of ingredients to create that complex flavor. If you try to be minimal with the ingredients, you typically end up with something bland.

Powerful

Flavors

Minimal

Ingredients

Market

Gap

Fermentation turns tea into kombucha, water into kefir, and cabbage into kimchi.

 

On top of developing intriguing umami flavors out of simple ingredients, fermentation yields probiotics which are hugely beneficial for the gut microbiome.

I started rapid prototyping with fermented mushrooms.

I made deals with ingredient suppliers and worked with a commercial kitchen to produce high-fidelity prototypes.

 

I set up an LLC and checked through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure common law trademark rights.

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4 ingredients,

16g protein,

0g sugar,

80 calories,

and just freaking delicious.

 
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At a 59% margin, Minimal Jerky is in a good position to overcome retail and distribution fees, and in a great position for DTC.

 

I've overcome the USDA approval hurdle by operating under the biggest biltong copacker in the US, and made deals with local retailers who will stock Minimal Jerky as we roll out.

Direct

To Consumer

Use crowdfunding to build out DTC as our primary sales channel, maximizing profit margins.

Local

Retailers

Use crowdfunding success as credibility when going door-to-door at retailers, offering a 35-50% retail fee.

Statewide

Distribution

Use local sales numbers as credibility for distributors, offering a 10% distribution fee.

Redirect consumers to order from our website to become a DTC-first brand.

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Minimal Snacks is my first attempt at bootstrapping a company myself. In a way, it's a test of whether my style of research-led design really does churn out profitable businesses. This project has taught me about feasibility and viability in the space—how to navigate regulations, distribution and retail in the F&B CPG industry.

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