We had the good fortune of connecting with Noah Bernett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Noah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always been drawn to business. As cliché as it might sound, I remember having a few lemonade stands when I was a kid. When I was 8 years old my father introduced me to the lucrative business of cotton candy where we would setup a stand in front of his ice cream store during street festivals in my home town of Montreal, Canada. After a few years of doing this with him, I decided to buy my own machine for $1500 so that I could hire an employee and sell cotton candy at multiple street festivals happening simultaneously. I would say that this was where my entrepreneurial spirit started to grow. I started my first real business, CoolWay Ice Cream, when I was 18. My love for creating businesses with the need to find an alternative to going to university -something I was never quite drawn to -is what pushed me to move forward with CoolWay. When my partners and I spoke about creating a high protein ice cream for the first time, it felt right to me so we took the risk and started the company. I’ve always felt the need to innovate in any business venture I pursue. In fact, I really enjoy the creative aspect that’s inherent to innovation. My process starts with asking questions that are related to the problem I am trying to solve. With my new company Pink Panda Candy, that question was: “Why is it that low sugar, low calorie candy isn’t available for purchase at every location you can purchase regular candy at?” That then sparked three more questions, the later being the trigger question: “Is it because it’s impossible to make a healthy candy that truly tastes as good as the real stuff? Is it because it would cost so much more to produce that it wouldn’t be price competitive? OR Is it because someone hasn’t tackled this problem yet?” After pondering these questions for a while, I concluded that there was an opportunity to democratize healthy candy. By this I mean creating an opportunity for anyone of any income class to be able to easily get their hands on a better for you alternative to traditional candy without it costing them more than the regular stuff. This was the inspiration behind me starting Pink Panda.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Pink Panda Candy is the tastiest healthy candy in the world. Each 1.8oz bag has only 2g of sugar, 90 calories and 0g of guilt;) Over and above being a much healthier alternative to traditional sweets, we are price positioned such that anyone can afford to buy our products -we even include free shipping. The goal is to make better-for-you candy available to everyone so that we can all incorporate better eating habits into our lifestyles. Starting a company is never easy. Starting a company during a global pandemic is even harder. There were a ton of challenges in getting Pink Panda off the ground however I’ll focus on some of the most notable ones. Firstly, developing the product took over 9 months, 200+ iterations, a ton of capital and the best confectionery food scientist in the world. Secondly, raising capital was a challenge. I had a really tough time raising money from the bank which was really disappointing. Almost all of the banks that had funded my first business (which I had paid back in full with interest), were not open to funding Pink Panda due to the current pandemic. Even the special local loan programs were turning me away which was unexpected and frustrating. Finally, through my network and relentless pursuit, I was able to raise private capital from amazing investors who believe in myself and the brand.. Finding the right partners was a very important part of the beginning days of the company. We’re lucky to have partnered with an amazing co-manufacturer who produces our recipe with precision as well as a fantastic co-packer who packages our gummies into the bags. We’ve also partnered with a fabulous third party logistics provider who ships our product to our consumer. It’s also important to mention the collaboration we made with the folks at LaunchPop who essentially brought the vision I had for the company to life. Along the way we found some amazing individuals who joined the company in various positions and today, we have a super strong and dedicated team. My focus now is making sure that we put a smile on people’s faces when they receive and eat our gummies. I know that we’re only selling candy but I do believe that we can have a small positive impact on people’s days. When folks think of Pink Panda, I want them to smile because they remember the gift that we sent them along with their order, or the funny text they received from us. Or perhaps they feel nostalgic and think back to the times they enjoyed eating candy as a kid. Maybe they think back to an interaction they had with our community manager that made them happy. In the current time we’re living in, I hope that Pink Panda can bring some positivity to peoples’ lives.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I like the idea of a Shoutout series because the truth is, I’m hardly responsible for my success. I was fortunate enough to be born to loving and supportive parents that are both entrepreneurial and creative in their own ways. Unconditional love and support is highly underrated in how impactful it can be in fostering the confidence needed to take on serious risk. There are so many people that have played a part in the success I’ve had to date. For one, I would not have been able to weather the storm of entrepreneurship without the support of my friends. On days that everything seems to be going horribly and your confidence turns into a ghost, having the encouragement from people you respect and care about helps you move forward. In other words, I’m talking about having people who truly believe in you when you are having a hard time believe in yourself. I owe a heck of a lot to my friends and I’m incredibly lucky to have them. I’ve been very lucky to have incredible mentors in my life who have each taught me important lessons. For example, my late violin teacher, Yaela, taught me a lot about respect, humility and patience. I’m also grateful for my investors and advisors who have each devoted significant time to coach me and encourage me. Having people believe in you enough to invest in you especially during this current time we’re living in has helped boost my confidence in the path I’ve chosen for myself. From time to time I think it’s helpful to remind ourselves that we don’t pick our genes or our environment. There are millions of people that are born to much different circumstances than our own. In truly recognizing the impact of this, we can begin to practise a bit more compassion and appreciation for our own dispositions.
Frederik Robitaille -LeFar