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Apr 13, 2021

Oded Brenner often praises traditional business principles. His career, however, has been defined by resisting them.

A self-described “businessman-artist,” Brenner cut his teeth as an entrepreneur in 1996 as the co-founder of Max Brenner, an international chain of upscale chocolate-centric cafes. Brenner points out that the genesis of Max Brenner, which operated nearly 40 locations globally at its peak, had little to do with business planning or market research and instead was born out of Brenner’s passion for indulgent and comforting desserts. The same is true for his latest venture, Blue Stripes Urban Cacao, which markets a range of wellness-focused consumer drinks and snacks made from upcycled cacao fruit, including the shell and beans. Brenner calls it a “pure passion” project, albeit one that is rapidly expanding its presence at natural channel retailers.

In an interview included in this episode, Brenner spoke about his unconventional approach to entrepreneurship and why he believes that “there will always be a place for the niche.” He also discussed his breakup from Max Brenner and his belief that corporations and independent business owners can never work together, why he embraces ideas that would commonly be perceived as mistakes and his definition for the ultimate form of success. 

Show notes: 

0:42: Interview: Oded Brenner, Founder, Max Brenner & Blue Stripes Urban Cacao -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latif joined Brenner for a conversation that began with a brief introduction to cacao fruit and instructions on how to open one with your hands (as Latif did during the interview). Brenner also discussed how his original plan to become a writer morphed into a passion for pastries, the origins of Max Brenner, the chain’s expansion into international cities and how he created a menu and experience that resonated with customers from all walks of life. Later, he explained why the company’s partnership with holding company Strauss Group was a big mistake, how his love of cacao fruit inspired the launch of Blue Stripes, why customer experience should package design, why having a broad mix of products is not a wise idea and his motivation to continue building businesses.

Brands in this episode: Max Brenner, Starbucks, Blue Stripes Urban Cacao