Roasted Kale
Feb 01, 2016 • By

Dancing to the rhythm of a super snack brand

301 INC, the New Business Development division at General Mills, recently invested in Rhythm Superfoods, a company in Austin, Texas.

RSF Logo

Rhythm specializes in innovative organic and non-GMO plant-based superfood snacks – think kale chips and broccoli bites. They are a remarkable, breakthrough brand with a truly differentiated product offering and we’re looking forward to helping them grow through this partnership.

I talked with Scott Jensen, the CEO of Rhythm Superfoods, about his company, its history and culture.

Scott Jensen

I know you have been leading Rhythm Superfoods for a few years, what was your inspiration for starting in the company?

Jensen: I started with a company called “Stubbs Barbeque” over 20 years ago. I was looking for something fresh and new to do. A little over five years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a gentleman here in Austin who started a juice bar called “Daily Juice.”

He was making kale chips in the back of one of their juice bars and it blew me away. I never thought of snacking as something so farm-like. I had made a personal decision to do something in the natural space. I was energized to eat healthier, be healthier.

So the inspiration of it was really being introduced to someone at the forefront who was developing unusual, vegan plant-based snacks. My good friend Clayton Christopher loved them too, and we were like ‘Let’s get them to raise the money and build this company.’ Juice bar was already making these kale chips but they needed someone that was in the food industry to kind of lead the company. So that’s how it all started.

Kale ChipsHow did you get the idea for the company name?

Jensen: The “Rhythm” name came after four or five bottles of wine at dinner with all the partners. We came up with 125 different names, but Rhythm continued to resonate with me personally. As one of the co-founders of Stubb’s BBQ, a huge live music and barbecue joint here in downtown Austin, I have always been a music lover. Everyone in our office is a music lover. So when the word “rhythm” came up, it became the number one choice. We’re proud to be Austinites and music is the heart and soul of the city. We are all very involved in music and Rhythm is involved in it too, so it links.

At Rhythm

At General Mills, our purpose is about serving the world by making food people love, and I am sure you get a chance to interact with a lot of your consumers who love your products. What are they telling you that they love about Rhythm Superfoods?

Jensen: It may be a split between a couple of things. We spent an awful lot of time and money making sure that the flavors taste great. So it’s got to taste good and the company has to have transparency and a mission. We’re big on transparency, so our website tells you everything we do to make these products and we talk to people openly at our thousands of demos every year.

People learn about what went into making these, where our supply-chain is, where we are planting our seeds, how we harvest, who is harvesting the kale, the facilities that we make them in, how we deliver them and what we do in our community.

A big part of who we are as a brand and as a company is that we’re community based. We donate time and food to the local capital area food bank, and we also spend a lot of time and energy working with a couple of other non-profits here in Austin.

Tell me more about the culture and what it’s like to work at Rhythm Superfoods.

Jensen: At any given time, there could be about 20-23 full time employees here. When you are running a company, the first thing you want to make sure is that you can attract really talented people and keep talented people here. When you walk into the office its either going to be really quiet because everyone is intense, or people are up running around, you know, throwing a nerf ball at each other, tasting new products, yelling and arguing about a new flavor, so it’s pretty dynamic.

Broccoli Bites

What is it about working with General Mills that is exciting for you?

Jensen: We were really impressed with what General Mills is trying to do. In a certain sense, their brands are so successful and big it can almost be intimidating, but the brands also need to be truthful and real to be an honest participant in this massive shift in the food world in the United States.

I was just impressed with the transparency and honesty with what you guys have as a mission. I look at this as a bit of an experiment: Can a big General Mills invest in smaller companies that are at the forefront of new emerging segments and put wind in the sails, open the technical and professional experience to the people at 301 INC – and at General Mills – and can that be translated to something where you are escalating the growth of a company like us? So we decided to be a part of that experiment.

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