EPIC founders at General Mills
Eat like a wolf, and be as fearless as a bison.
With those words, EPIC Provisions – the Texas maker of meat-based protein bars and snacks – has arrived at General Mills.
A little more than a month after General Mills purchased EPIC, its founders – Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest – shared their passion, and their unvarnished founding story, with employees yesterday at our headquarters in Minneapolis.
“Believe in us. Put your heart and soul in what you do, every day. We’re all in the same family now,” said Taylor, noting that the General Mills alliance will help EPIC accelerate faster than it could ever have imagined.
A ‘rocket ship’ of a business
EPIC produces modern-day pemmican – the food made with meat, fat and berries by American Indians decades ago.
Its variety of gluten-free meat-based bars include flavors such as Chicken Sriracha, Bison Bacon Cranberry and Lamb Currant Mint, as well as a trail mix-like product, and animal oils such as beef tallow and duck fat.
The animals used in making EPIC’s products are grass-fed, too.
A prize addition to the General Mills family, EPIC is now part of our Annie’s division, led by John Foraker, president, and one of its biggest champions.
At yesterday’s event, John introduced the couple who started the company three years ago. He described EPIC as a “rocket ship” that has succeeded.
“We’re proud to be partners with EPIC,” said John. “Their story is rich and deep. This brand is such a beautiful brand. And General Mills can make it a more successful business.”
A shift from vegan to carnivore
Taylor and Katie, who are both competitive athletes who participate in triathlons and mountain biking races, started as vegans.
But health concerns – and a desire for speedy recoveries after intense workouts – changed their minds. A holistic practitioner recommended Katie revise her diet by cooking her food, avoiding grains and eating meat in a paleo-style diet.
Within days, her stomach issues disappeared, and within months her knee improved. An idea sparked as the couple sought to create a meat-based protein bar they could eat while hiking or cycling.
“We decided, ‘Let’s fix the problem we have and others have, and create a bar out of meat that doesn’t exist on the market,’” Taylor said.
EPIC is now the market leader in this category.
Inspired by LÄRABAR
For inspiration, the couple looked to LÄRABAR – the company that’s been part of General Mills since 2008.
“We wanted to make a LÄRABAR, but with meat,” said Katie.
EPIC debuted in 2013 at National Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, with few products but a lot of hope. They walked away with an award for one of the best new products, and an agreement with Whole Foods Market to carry its products.
But while their experience in the meat world was initially non-existent, Taylor and Katie actually are serial entrepreneurs who previously operated a recycling company and a vegan food brand. They admit that they have been learning along the way.
Taylor said that EPIC and its 13 employees are excited to join General Mills.
However, he hopes that his small company – which will continue to operate independently – will have just as much influence on its new parent as General Mills will have on EPIC.
He’s hopeful that General Mills can move as quickly as their company.
Katie noted that EPIC’s values align with those of General Mills, including “do the right thing, all the time” and “win as a team.”
— EPIC (@EPICbar) January 6, 2016
“You are passionate, interested and innovative, and General Mills needs that to set itself apart,” Katie said.
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