In 2015, Meghan Asha was just another name on a long list of financial analysts. Today, she’s the visionary behind an esteemed network that connects consumer brands with major retail and distribution pipelines. Her platform, FounderMade, is making it possible for new brands in the food, beauty, and wellness space to get discovered by prominent retailers like Target, Whole Foods, and Sephora during an exclusive conference series designed to foster a brand’s “Big Break.”
MiLLENNiAL caught up with Megan as she was preparing her Los Angeles “Consumer Discovery Show” to learn more about how FounderMade works and why it’s quickly growing in the neo-Shark Tank.
How did FounderMade get it’s start?
Well, this wasn’t supposed to be a business. I was working in finance- venture capital, and I was consulting for another startup and I was really depressed. I just knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I thought, how do I get out of my depression? I asked myself, “When you’re 90, what will make you happy?” It was 2015 and I wanted to host business dinners. I wanted to do 12 dinners that year and wanted to call it FounderMade.
The idea was that a successful entrepreneur would tell their war-story to a table of next-generation entrepreneurs. From there it grew organically, to the point, where at the end of 2015, we contacted Daniel from Kind Bar to speak at one of our dinners and his PR people wanted him to speak in front of 300 people…FounderMade turned into a big conference in early January 2016 just from that conversation.
Describe how FounderMade works.
We discover all the best consumer brands and we help build them. And the way that we do that is through our trade-show, and soon in 2019, a new technology platform that will connect retailers to brands.
The Consumer Discover Show is a B2B2C conference. We have over 100 exhibitors ranging from $1 million in revenue all the way up to being publicly traded. And then we have retailers, investors, media, and influencers all coming to discover these brands. We offer an amazing gift bag that is worth over $500 to all attendees so they can discover all our featured brands in food, innovation, and wellness.
At all of our conferences, we make sure that the entrepreneur and the C-level executives are attending, and that if a brand is exhibiting, their founder must to be present. We’ve helped brand get distribution in Whole Foods, Ulta, and Starbucks. It’s really about driving commerce.
How are you forming these relationships with brands?
It’s very much the entrepreneur’s journey. I would be outside my office, making phone calls to brands I loved or that were about to launch, bothering them to ask if I could get involved.
But now we get referrals from other entrepreneurs. We have a whole brand curation team. Exhibitors now apply to be apart of the conferences and join the platform. It’s definitely not as difficult as it was, but we definitely received 100 NO’s in the beginning. It’s been the perseverance game.
At what point in a brand’s development do they become a viable candidate for FounderMade?
A FounderMade company is 1. Mission driven. There has to be a brand story or a brand hook that speaks to innovation. So think chlorophyll water water or a cordless hairdryer. And then 2. It needs to have traction. $1 million in revenue is where we can really help make those deeper connections and get distribution in the Starbucks, the Targets, or the Whole Foods of the world. But we do also help brands launch if we think they will do really well.
What are your plans for expansion?
The goal is to become the home for all the consumer innovations in food, wellness, and beauty. We tell the founder’s story and we also launch these interesting innovations so people can see what’s coming to market and why they should buy it. We will also be launching our tech platform in 2019. And will also be putting on a CEO summit, so think, TED but for consumer product founders.
We want to help all the best brands, help them get discovered, and at the end of the day, that’s our team’s mission – we want to spread the wealth of the luck we have with our network to undiscovered products and consumer brand innovations.
To learn more about Meghan Asha or apply for the next Consumer Discover Show visit here.