WHO: Mister K
Founders: Lisa Ratahi & Rachel Bernhardi
What products, services, solutions or technology have you developed?
At Mister K, we have passionately developed a selection of tasty consumable crackers; Marlborough Sea salt, Rosemary & Garlic and Chilli & Cheese (with a new flavour soon to be launched!)
Driven from naturally gluten/wheat free and low carb ingredients that adheres to a keto and paleo lifestyle, these crackers offer consumers with a healthy and tasty alternative to mainstream varieties currently available and have additional health benefits.
The cracker was designed from home innovation, hand-made in our own kitchen to fulfil most dietary requirements and taste needs like any health conscious like-minded person would be searching for. Being a locally owned and operated business, we pride ourselves on being authentic and wholesome, with emphasis to produce and manufacture to our expanding clientele and stockists nationwide.
Manufacture and distribution is directly controlled and facilitated from our own premise, enabling a desirable and sustainable business model.
WHAT KEY CUSTOMER PROBLEMS OR CUSTOMER “WANTS” DOES YOUR SOLUTION SOLVE?
Our products are driven primarily with a focus to offer a tasty and wholesome cracker that can be enjoyed daily without restriction and dietary requirements, for which society is currently centred towards in these health-conscious times.
Krackers being naturally free from gluten, wheat, egg and two of the three flavours being dairy free, they also have many health benefits with the superfood ingredients used such as nutritious seeds and lupin flour (a legume-based flour which is naturally high in protein!)
Mister K Krackers also offer a balanced alternative for those consumers in need of a diabetic diet with no added sugars.
Developing this product was directly due to a gap in the market for such a lifestyle alternative, which was heavily endorsed with numerous taste testing by friends and family.
Mister K Krackers are suitable for anybody at numerous ages and stages. Often it is difficult to find snacks for restricted diets, so we have provided a convenience factor as we find our consumers enjoy eating on the run as they are ideal sustenance. With many people leading busy lifestyles, not everyone has the time to prepare their own snacks from scratch, in fact preparing healthy crackers can be super fiddly and difficult to execute at home so convenience with Mister K Krackers is a draw card.
Who and where are your target customers?
Typically, our focused clientele is the busy Mum who appreciates healthy food, loves to entertain and adores regularly sharing her antipasto platter with friends and family that are predominantly gluten free and struggle to find a tasty cracker alternative on the supermarket shelves.
Our product has evolved to our large customer base of keto, paleo and low carb advocates, as our product adapts to their needs and wants, fulfilling their cravings while staying within the realms of their dietary lifestyle.
Customers also include the atypical working man looking for a flavoursome alternative to workplace lunches, whilst still being satisfied with a lunchbox alternative to sandwiches and biscuits (or fast-food options readily available).
For the outdoor types, this product also offers superb storage and travelling qualities, ideal for those interested in outdoor pursuits and active lifestyles where small and compactable snacks are a necessity. The brilliance of Mister K Krackers is that they provide a natural alternative to protein bars and synthetic snacks.
And not to forget the thoughtful gift-giver that loves to put together the ultimate hamper for Christmas and family birthdays that searches for a beautiful product, packaging and all.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
Mister K Gourmet Low Carb Krackers were developed as one component of a larger business model conjured up over the COVID lockdown. When searching for low sugar lunchbox ideas and following a healthy low carb lifestyle ourselves, we could not find anything comparable on the supermarket shelves. Having an idea is one thing however executing an idea is the time-consuming aspect of developing a product.
We utilised our spare time while working other jobs and running busy households with young families, so time was not on our side. Looking back, it is quite incredible how we found the time to develop, design, research and execute our business model to what it is today. What started off with an idea and what we thought would be a hobby, soon turned into a full-time operation so we are glad we put in the hard yards in the beginning to execute the likes of our packaging with all the relevant information, to product research and a marketing plan to launch our business.
What are three things about your business that you are proud of?
- We are proud that we have been successfully able to launch a food brand and product onto the market on a commercial scale and that we have had an amazing response from doing so.
- Our loyal stockists who extend nationwide believe in our product and love it as much as we do. We are grateful for their excitement and compassion to date and have made many connections with our retailers that support us and sell our brand.
- We are also super proud to have received our recent awards, being awarded gold for all three flavours of Mister K’s Gourmet Low Carb Krackers at the NZ Artisan Awards. We feel a massive sense of achievement and feel like our hard work is beginning to pay off.
Mister K’s current Kracker flavours
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
We use social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook as our main marketing tool. We have found social media to be a powerful marketing avenue, gaining steady exposure of our product and brand which directs our customers to our website.
The beauty of using social media is that it is mostly free, can be self-taught, you don’t have to be an expert but we have also learned that consistency is key when posting material to our followers.
We have organically grown our follower base from scratch and are steadily growing and have recently joined up with a social media expert to take our social media to the next level. We decided it was time to get a professional onboard considering this is our main source of marketing. Our advice would be to start consistent marketing with social media and a simple, user-friendly website as it is little cost to a business starting out and the rest will follow.
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU’VE FACED IN BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS SO FAR?
Launching a startup business on the eve of a global pandemic had numerous issues and constraints. Packaging delays as a result of supply chain implications were not forecast and became a challenging constraint to negotiate in the early stages of building our business so far.
Stock levels, resource demand and manufacturing capacity requirements were streamlined to overcome the supply chain restrictions and how we could effectively continue to supply our customers without delay.
Transparency and communication to customers was paramount – it was touch and go at stages but we managed to operate without supply shortage or disruption.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
When starting in business, the key lesson we think is most relevant is to believe in your product or service, and back yourself and your business the entire way.
Not letting small misfortunes get in the way of letting you succeed and moving onwards and upwards with a positive outlook. With the right attitude, anything can be possible to foresee your goals and dreams.
An idea is just that, until you give it purpose and enable it with desire – dreams are free, and commitment is hard work and effort, but the rewards are worth it!
Story created in partnership with Venture Taranaki.