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You’ve heard of being the change, but how about bean the change? This is the M.O. for Los Angeles-based B Corporation Beanfields. On Thursday February 28, 2019, the better-for-you bean chip brand announced the closing of their Series B capital financing round. Beanfields exhibited 12 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth. This includes eight consecutive record-breaking sales weeks in the latter part of 2018 following CEO Arnulfo Ventura’s arrival. The B Corp plans to use funding to launch new innovative items, deepen existing SKU revenue and increase operation runs.
Founded in 2010, Beanfields is on a mission to replace unhealthy snacks with sustainable and nutritious chips. On the heels of a record-breaking 2018 and with January 2019 bringing the highest monthly sales in Beanfields history, I caught up with Arnulfo, CEO and ‘Chief Bean Aficionado,’ to discuss the rebirth of Beanfields and where we can expect to see the B Corp head next.
Deborah Sweeney: Arnulfo, what was your career backstory before joining Beanfields?
Arnulfo Ventura: Which career? Architect? Banker? Entrepreneur? [laughs] I guess it’s been anything but linear. Perhaps what they all have in common is the pursuit of the impossible, and to break the rules, or a departure from conventional thinking. I’ve founded a company as a student at Stanford Business School. I’ve had the privilege to apprentice with the CEO at the preeminent plant-based beverage brand, and I’ve served at the venturing and innovation arm to the largest food and beverage brand in North America, PepsiCo.
Sweeney: What makes these chips stand out?
Ventura: They’re bold! It starts with the flavors and recipes that are in complete harmony with the bean and brown rice base composition, and it shines all the way through to the bag and packaging colors along with that huge chip on the bag. It doesn’t hurt that they just flat-out taste good too! They’re right at the intersection of better-for-you, and zero compromise on taste. Every single SKU is vegan to boot.
Sweeney: I read Beanfields actually got its start as an unexpected kitchen experiment.
Ventura: Right! The founding team was into good, clean eating and there was this love of two very simple things, beans and tortilla chips. There had to be a better way than corn-based options. After some experiments and a little kitchen scrappiness, it eventually leads to the creation of Beanfields.
There were two critical junctures for how Beanfields got its start. It was out of a love for beans and also in pursuit of the ideal life of living in a field of beans, which led to the company founding in 2010.
2018 would mark our rebirth as we debuted our rebranding marketing campaign and in part, today Beanfields is performing at record highs completely unprecedented in company history.
Sweeney: Did you face any challenges last year following the rebranding?
Ventura: At a board meeting last year, I called out communication as the largest, single threat facing the company. Conversely, I found the subject of people as the largest, single upside opportunity. Brand relevance was also an area of concern for me. We reorganized and promoted a handful of people as part of it, and made sure the go-forward team would be 100% comprised of growth-minded members. We broke down siloed thinking, instituted communal leadership and elevated internal facing comms and tools. To address relevance, we tinkered away in R&D at a furious pace. Now, we’re debuting five new vegan, non-GMO, gluten free, bean-based flavor profiles this March, and in three different sizes.
Sweeney: Successful rebranding aside, what other success stories has Beanfields had so far?
Ventura: The launching of our five new flavors, 13 new items, symbolizes the largest innovation launch in company history. The year couldn’t be off to a better start, where we’re now posting triple-digit percentage YOY dollar sales growth.
Sweeney: Beanfields has been a Certified B Corporation since day one. Why choose a B Corporation?
Ventura: Our founding was marked by progressive thinking around conscious capitalism and social advocacy. We are among the first companies in the natural foods industry to seek and achieve the status. It all begins with the B Impact Assessment (BIA) which is available to take for free online. We’re honored to continue to be part of a community committed to the highest standards of verified performance.
Sweeney: How does Beanfields work to pursue its social and environmental purpose as a B Corp?
Ventura: It’s a twofold process. First, we continue to support our local farmers in North America and promote sustainable farming practices. Second, via our partnership with Homeboy Industries, we’re aiming to move the needle on providing job opportunities and training for formerly incarcerated and gang-involved members of our community at large.
Sweeney: From new chip flavors to business expansion, what do you think the future has for Beanfields?
Ventura: For the immediate future, we’re focused on the day-to-day tactical execution of supporting our innovation this year. Longer out, I continue to reflect on this mantra of “Snack Bold. Live Bold.” And what frontiers I think this guiding philosophy could unveil for us, as well, where our consumers will give the brand natural permission to extend out into. In many ways, it’s still day one for us, and there remains a lot of frontier for us to explore. It’s an exciting time!
March 1, 2019 at 12:46PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs