HIPPEAS is barely three years old, yet it’s become one of the fastest growing natural snack food companies in the world. So how did serial entrepreneur Livio Bisterzo go from delivering pizzas in high school to building a globally recognized brand that’s as innovative as it is purposeful? Read on to go behind the scenes of HIPPEAS.
ForceBrands: You have a very entrepreneurial background. What was your first successful venture and what were the most important things you learned from it?
Livio Bisterzo: I have been an entrepreneur all my life working across different industries. My first notable venture in consumer products was in personal care — Kyoku for men, a premium men’s grooming brand sold in more than 400 department stores globally.
The biggest learning was understanding the essence of building a brand based off category insights while shaping and delivering a well-crafted proposition and story that appeals to a specific consumer segment.
FB: What inspired you to you create HIPPEAS?
LB: Two main trends, with the first being the growth of plant-based nutrient-dense snacking and white space in puff innovation. I knew we could create something unique for consumers and I knew I had the skillset to build a big global brand. Combine that with the fact that it just felt like the right time to bring chickpeas to the market in a modern and highly snackable way. I was in an innovation food lab and saw some really inventive possibilities for chickpeas. From that moment on, I decided that was the path we should go down.
FB: What have been some of the greatest challenges you’ve encountered with launching the HIPPEAS brand?
LB: The brand was strong from the start, so we knew we had a story we could bring to market. The challenge was catching up with our growth trajectory from a supply chain standpoint. As HIPPEAS grew, the team grew. We’ve brought on a great team with the experience and capability to cope with growth and push above and beyond.
FB: Here at ForceBrands, we build the teams that build the brands. What’s your philosophy on team building?
LB: Our “PhilosoPEA” is based around our culture. Every hire should align with our brand vision and believe in what we’re doing! We are a family and everyone is doing their part; going above and beyond any job title or job description to continue on this amazing journey.
I’m all about empowering people to be creative, show leadership, and take initiative across any role. We grew from just a small team to a team of 50+ incredibly hard-working people. We’ve created a culture where people are not afraid of thinking unconventionally, outside of how things have worked in the past.
I encourage our team to learn and understand how to work more creatively — smarter not harder, if you will. That reflects in the way our brand has come to market and how we execute across all touchpoints.
FB: What qualities do you look for in those initial key hires?
LB: They must show a passion for our brand. When it comes to those high-level hires, experience is key. We’ve been so fortunate to be able to hire some incredible leaders.
FB: HIPPEAS is a very young brand (founded in 2016) yet you’ve persuaded high-profile investors like Leonardo DiCaprio to invest in the brand. What about HIPPEAS do you think resonated most with him that made him want to come on board?
LB: Culture, vision, and alignment don’t just apply to employees but also stakeholders, customers, shareholders, and advisors. We built a company with a clear mission, and we’ve brought on many of our key partners, stakeholders, and investors because of our shared values.
FB: You’ve founded one of the fastest-growing natural snack food companies in the world – what’s the best advice you have for those looking to launch a food brand of their own?
LB: Build a brand. Over my 16 years of doing this, I’ve learned how to build brands with true consumer appeal.
There are countless entrepreneurs building propositions based on the food properties but a handful of them go beyond and build brands that deliver language, attitude, a story, a true mission, and a purpose.
No matter what industry, consumers will always want to associate themselves with aspirational stories that inspire them.
5 FAST FOUNDER FUN FACTS
1. What time do you typically wake up?
2. If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be?
3. What was your first job?
I delivered pizza in high school
4. What are three things you always carry with you?
Phone, notepad, and pen. I still like to scribble.
5. What is your personal motto?
Not so much a motto, rather a few key principles:
• Always strive for self-improvement
• Constantly build relationships
• Have a positive outlook on life, family, and business