Mar 19, 2019
Kodiak Cakes CEO Joel Clark will be the first to admit that entrepreneurship isn’t a part-time job.
For years, he tried to run the pancake mix brand, which launched in 1995 and is based on a family recipe, as a side-business while pursuing a graduate degree and consulting career. There were struggles, late nights and more than a few headaches, mistakes and missed opportunities. Despite the challenges, Kodiak Cakes earned a loyal consumer following and a steady streak of retail wins.
Clark, however, knew that the brand couldn’t tread water forever. For Kodiak Cakes to truly succeed, he’d have to be all in. His commitment helped turn a tiny business selling products to a handful of mom-and-pop shops into the top-selling category brand at Target, one that eclipsed $100 million in sales last year. In an interview included in this episode, Clark spoke about his journey and how perseverance, innovation and swimming in the “Shark Tank” played into the evolution and success of Kodiak Cakes.
2:38: Interview: Joel Clark, CEO, Kodiak Cakes -- We sat down with Clark for an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2019, where Kodiak Cakes was launching a new line of protein-infused graham crackers. As part of a wide-ranging conversation, Clark spoke about the origins of Kodiak Cakes and its early years spent bootstrapping. He also discussed how the brand landed its first major retail partner, how he operated Kodiak Cakes and supported himself during lean years and why he was always thinking about a backup plan. He also explained how the company’s first hire eventually became its president, how to empower employees and why innovation means more than developing new products. Later he spoke about how the brand’s flagship offering came to being, the impact of appearing on “Shark Tank” and the decision to partner with a venture capital firm.
Brands in this episode: Kodiak Cakes