HomeBusinessHow DEUX's Founder Uses a 'Tech Mindset' for Massive Growth

How DEUX’s Founder Uses a ‘Tech Mindset’ for Massive Growth

Sabeena Ladha, founder and CEO of the “good-for-you” snack model DEUX, has a “fairly deep relationship with junk meals.” That is “form of a humorous factor to say,” she admits, however her childhood within the small city of Euless, Texas, the place her father ran a fuel station and comfort retailer, kicked off the eagerness for snacks that might assist form her skilled endeavors.

“My dad and mom labored 24/7,” Ladha remembers. “They’re immigrants, so that they had that tough work ethic inbuilt them. So he was working 12-, 14-hour days, six, seven days per week, and on the weekends, my sisters and I’d go to the fuel station, and we might get to select a snack. I all the time picked one salty and one candy snack.” They weren’t essentially essentially the most healthful selections, however on the time, these merchandise weren’t fairly as “villainized” as they’re in the present day, she says.

Picture Credit score: Courtesy of DEUX. Sabeena Ladha.

Though Ladha “appeared wholesome” as a highschool athlete who performed basketball and ran monitor, she quips that her “insides have been product of partially hydrogenated oil and trans fat.” It wasn’t till faculty that she dove into well being and wellness, even beginning a weblog “earlier than it was cool” to unpack juice cleanses and cryotherapy.

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“Not everybody desires to eat a salad for each meal of the day, so how do you assist folks make barely higher choices?”

“[I was] attempting to make the scary world of wellness a bit bit extra approachable for Sabeena in Texas,” Ladha explains. “Not everybody lives in Los Angeles and has entry to 18 farmers markets on a Saturday. That is simply not life like. And never everybody desires to eat a salad for each meal of the day, so how do you assist folks make barely higher choices?”

Answering that query in the end led Ladha to the “wholesome indulgences” idea of DEUX. The new-pink model affords cookie doughs, dessert spreads and donut holes which might be vegan, gluten- and preservative-free and comprise “useful elements” like vitamin B12 to help sustained power and L-Theanine to assist with cognitive operate and psychological focus.

Picture Credit score: Courtesy of DEUX

Ladha was able to “break the foundations” and innovate within the snack house, however she credit a lot of her success with the truth that she discovered these guidelines earlier than she broke them. Her earlier experiences engaged on Frito-Lay at PepsiCo, managing a P&L at Diamond Meals, consulting at McKinsey & Firm and launching manufacturers in enterprise capital helped construct a powerful basis for her entrepreneurial journey.

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“[Experimenting with scale] required some capital as a result of there’s lots of waste that comes with that.”

Ladha began experimenting with chocolate chip cookie dough in her kitchen in June 2020, when the pandemic was properly underway, and many individuals wished to graduate from the “sourdough and wine part” and bask in more healthy methods, she says. At this time, all of DEUX’s cookie doughs have the same base, incorporating oats, nut butter, flaxseed and coconut sugar.

However one of many greatest challenges in these early days was determining methods to scale DEUX’s excellent recipe with a producer. “You’ll suppose it is [just] math, proper?” Ladha says. “Like, you simply scale up the recipe into making 3,000 kilos as a substitute of 1 pound. And it actually didn’t work like that. It received drier; it received a bit bit extra dense. It wasn’t as candy. So it’s a must to then undergo iterations, and that required some capital as a result of there’s lots of waste that comes with that too.”

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Initially, Ladha did not need to elevate capital; she put $20,000 of her personal cash into the enterprise and resolved to check the product first. Ladha was greater than keen to pivot if the concept did not achieve traction, noting that she “wished an concept that might work” quite than one which needed to be “power match” into the market. However DEUX was “worthwhile on first ship,” and as soon as Ladha realized the intense potential there, she determined to lift.

Picture Credit score: Courtesy of DEUX

To this point, DEUX has raised about $6 million. The corporate’s first fundraising spherical kicked off in January 2021, and Ladha says that capital — and the power it gave DEUX to supply at a considerably greater quantity — made it potential for her to seem on Shark Tank after its producers reached out. Ladha did not land a deal on the present, however DEUX has continued to see great progress within the years since.

“[If you] take that form of tech mentality and convey it to meals, it would simply assist you perceive if there’s really product-market match.”

DEUX has transitioned from an completely direct-to-consumer (DTC) model to at least one with a big retail presence in Goal, Complete Meals, Sprouts Farmers Markets and extra. DEUX hit 1,000,000 items offered final yr and greater than doubled its retailer rely to 2,600 in 2023. And within the first half of 2024, DEUX will see that determine skyrocket once more with the launch of donuts at main retailers nationwide, totaling greater than 4,000 shops throughout its three product strains.

Ladha says that retail will make up the “lion’s share” of DEUX’s income this yr however stresses that DTC stays essential for the model for 2 causes: knowledge assortment and advertising alternatives. The previous helps the enterprise perceive who its clients are and which flavors resonate with them, and the latter has allowed it to discover model collaborations, like its current Buttercream Sugar Cookie with The Skinny Confidential.

Picture Credit score: Courtesy of DEUX

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Now, Ladha is targeted on making DEUX a family identify — “full cease.” She envisions it as a “better-for-you Nestlé” with a contemporary twist and says a not-so-“attractive” “tech mindset” helps it get there.

“It sounds a lot cooler to be like, ‘You realize, I used to be simply making this cookie dough for my family and friends, after which I went to a farmer’s market, and Complete Meals found me, and now I am at Complete Meals now nationally,'” Ladha says. “That is a cooler story, proper? However in the event you can gather knowledge and check and study and take that form of tech mentality and convey it to meals, it would simply assist you perceive if there’s really product-market match. That is why I joke, ‘Do not do it — however see in the event you ought to do it.'”


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