Sep 18, 2020
How does the entrepreneur of an upstart food brand gain over 20,000 followers on LinkedIn in less than 18 months? In a word: positivity.
Mark Samuel is the founder and CEO of IWON Organics, a brand of protein-infused snacks, that include puffs and crispy sticks. A serial entrepreneur, Samuel founded several businesses in the fitness and finance industries prior to launching IWON in 2016. The brand is sold in nearly 5,000 locations nationwide, including at Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts and Whole Foods stores. Company revenue grew by 300% from 2018 to 2019 and while the pandemic has impacted growth in 2020, IWON has continued to expand its retail and distribution footprint over the past year.
Samuel has chronicled the company’s wins, losses, opportunities and challenges via LinkedIn, where he has amassed over 20,000 followers. Through his upbeat and motivational posts, Samuel has become an influential voice within the food and beverage community and, in the process, expanded awareness of IWON to industry gatekeepers and amplified its message as a differentiated brand within a crowded protein snack space.
In an interview included in this episode, Samuel spoke about his experience building IWON, what he defines as the brand’s “why” and how he effectively engages with his followers on LinkedIn. He also explained how he incorporates both confidence and vulnerability into his social content and why patience is a virtue, especially after hearing the word “no.”
0:35: Supercharge Your Life, Then Chill -- The episode’s hosts discussed BevNET/NOSH’s upcoming Supercharge D2C event, which is taking place on Sept. 29 and will help entrepreneurs and executives develop, refine and energize their approach to the direct to consumer channel. They also congratulated Ted Fleming and his team at non-alcoholic beer company Partake Brewing which raised $4 million in a Series A led by CircleUp, PepsiCo’s launch of relaxation drink brand Driftwell and how it fits into an emerging set of “Relaxation 2.0” beverages and also shared valuable updates to our Brand Spotlight platform.
15:21 Interview: Mark Samuel, Founder & CEO, IWON Organics -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latif sat down with Samuel who spoke about managing home, work and family life, including the challenges of raising children as a single parent and Zoom learning. Samuel also discussed how his experience working at a hotel enhanced his salesmanship, the influences that shaped his decision to start a food company and the steepest part of the learning curve in launching a packaged brand. Later, he explained why a commitment to consistent and useful content helped him build his LinkedIn following, why he doesn’t shy away from stories about failure in his feed and why posts about mental health and reducing alcohol consumption have been among his most popular.