Adnan Durrani was once known as “the suit.” A former Wall Street executive, Durrani’s first experience at a natural foods show was a clash in styles: a buttoned-up banker dressed in Brooks Brothers amid hippie entrepreneurs clad in raggedy jeans and sandals. Despite their apparent differences, Durrani, who in 2009 founded American Halal, the maker of Saffron Road, found himself embraced by the community and in particular by Stonyfield Farm co-founder Gary Hirshberg, who became an important mentor.
In this week’s episode of Taste Radio, Durrani spoke about his career in the food and beverage business and how his belief system evolved during his transition from Wall Street into the natural food space. He also explained how he identified a huge growth opportunity for halal foods in the U.S. and why Saffron Road, makers of halal-certified frozen foods and healthy snacks, saw millennials as a key consumer demographic during the brand’s launch. Durrani also discussed how the company was able to turn a potential PR nightmare into an opportunity and why he’s increasingly immersing himself and his brand into political causes.
Also in this episode: An interview with Neel Premkumar, the founder and CEO of Dyla Brands, which markets Forto Coffee energy shots and Stur liquid water enhancers. A former CPG executive with stints at Nestlé and Pfizer, Premkumar spoke about his foray into entrepreneurship and his process for identifying white space and marketable innovation in saturated categories. And in this week’s Elevator Talk, we spoke with BJ Mccaslin and Jason Trawick, the co-founders of Minute Mixology, a brand of all-natural, single-serve cocktail mixers. This episode is presented by Sovereign Flavors.
1:31: Life’s a Pitch…: BevNET Live, NOSH Live and Brewbound Session are just weeks away. The hosts encouraged new brand owners and early-stage entrepreneurs attending the events to introduce themselves to the team. They recalled meeting entrepreneurs, before they were big successes with their brands, for the first time at past events, including Janie Hoffman from Mamma Chia and Justin Trout, Dina Trout and Vanessa Dew from Health-Ade.
6:30: Interview: Adnan Durrani, Founder/CEO, American Halal/Saffron Road — Adnan Durrani is the founder and CEO of American Halal, the maker of Saffron Road, a brand of halal-certified frozen foods and healthy snacks. BevNET editor-in-chief Jeff Klineman met with Durrani at American Halal’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
40:11: Interview: Neel Premkumar, Founder/CEO, Dyla Brands — Last month at NACS 2017, BevNET’s Ray Latif and Brad Avery met with Neel Premkumar, who is the founder and CEO of Dyla Brands. Dyla is the maker of Forto Coffee, a fast-growing brand of organic, coffee-based energy shots and Stur, a brand of all-natural drink mixes. Premkumar discussed why learning from missteps has been critical to the evolution of Forto, how e-commerce established a critical conduit between the company and its consumers and recent strategic partnerships with The Hershey Co., Peet’s and Keurig.
1:02:28: Elevator Talk: BJ Mccaslin & Jason Trawick, Co-Founders, Minute Mixology — BJ McCaslin is a beverage entrepreneur perhaps best known as the co-founder of Coco Cafe, an espresso and coconut water blend that was acquired by Vita Coco in 2012. His latest project is Minute Mixology, a brand of all-natural, single-serve cocktail mixers. We caught with BJ and his co-founder Jason Trawick in Los Angeles, and connected for this edition of Elevator Talk.
Brands in this episode: Mamma Chia, Health-Ade, Saffron Road, Stonyfield Farm, Vermont Pure Spring Water, Forto Coffee, Stur, Coco Cafe, Vita Coco, Minute Mixology
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