Bringing Edible Spoons to Market to Reduce Single-Use Plastics – Dinesh Tadepalli of IncrEDIBLE Eats

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 44:40)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Dinesh Tadepalli of IncrEDIBLE Eats shares his journey to save the world’s Oceans by bringing edible spoons to market as a substitute for single-use plastic spoons.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie.

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Dinesh Tadepalli of IncrEDIBLE Eats

00:00Introduction
01:24Product
08:38How did you get started
17:06B2B B2C
19:18Growth
23:54Shark Tank
26:20Competitors
27:28Challenges in Scaling
31:03Fulfillment/Shipping
31:57Measuring environmental impact
36:53Failures
39:29Rapid Fire Round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Dinesh Tadepalli of IncrEDIBLE Eats

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: How to win friends and influence people)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: New innovations in packaging)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: HubSpot, Notion, Asana, LinkedIn messages, LinkedIn Sales Navigator)
  4. An entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: My partner)
  5. Best business advice you ever received (Response: Drive with a lot of passion. So that trumps everything and along your journey)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Shawn and welcome to Trep talks. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, business executives and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome Dinesh Tripoli to the show. Dinesh is the co founder of incredible eats. Incredible eats creates edible cutlery to reduce single use plastics, in an effort to help preserve our oceans. Incredible eats is on a mission to replace all plastic utensils with edible options. And today, I’m going to ask Dinesh a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey, and some of the strategies and tactics that he helped us to start and grow his business. So thank you so much for joining me today at Dropbox, Dinesh.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Hey, thanks for inviting me. Sushant. It’s really nice. Talking to you, and looking forward a good podcast.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah, so it’s interesting. I mean, your business is very mission driven. So can you share a little bit about you know what? Yeah, maybe you can share a little bit of what your product is. And how are you trying to help the environment?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, sure. So, as you already hinted that we are the manufacturers and distributors of edible cutlery, so you can eat your spoon, so it’s not something out of the blue, it is out of the blue. But yeah, you can literally just put after eating with it. So this concept arise when I was at an ice cream shop with my kids. And I was I just had an ice cream for like 10 minutes like everyone else, and through the, through the cup and the spoons, and like, by by chance, I looked into the bin, and I saw like 1000s of plastic spoons there. So they were like separated. In a sense, the cups were on a separate bin, and the spoons were separate. And so I looked at the huge volume of that it was a pretty famous ice cream shop. And one question suddenly hit me. I am an educated person. I am aware of plastic pollution. But why didn’t I think twice before using a plastic spoon? So that was the question that started this journey of mine. I have been an engineer by background for like almost 12 years, I still work as an engineer. And that became my passion so much of my passion that I sold my home to build a facility to help us help and First Lady so and I because there are a lot of things that we’re like aware of but I’m I was very it, I would say I fell into that guilt consciousness basically thinking that okay, for the past 10 years, or even since I was born, how much plastic have I used, how much how much of a contributor to the planet, how do I get rid of that so that was the crunch like the guilt that later turned into this huge passion that I need to do something about it. I don’t want to start another star software company or a heart like any other company to make just money but to make an impact as well. So that has been my goal since the beginning. And that’s how we started this and thankfully things are going pretty well and I we have already recently we just completed our 3 million plastic reduced call so so I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made him happy with the time and the money that I put in so far. And happy that I met the right people to make this possible.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So in terms of the product, it’s really just the edible food or are you also creating other edible cutlery also,

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

just to give you like a just a little more overview of the product the spoons are currently made with grains, whole grains, the non GMO wheat or chickpea brown rice and corn. And obviously we have multiple flavors like both savory and sweet. And each spoon can stay firm for up to 20 to 30 minutes and hot soups like hot products, so they’re pretty firm and crunchy. And you can eat it right after and even if you don’t have the appetite to eat and you can just put them away and they will decompose like food. Coming back to the other shapes. So we started with the spoons because it was the easiest shape to make. We just recently launched our sporks which is like a substitution of forks because forks will be too fragile to make into an edible fork. So we convert it into a spork so it can be used both as a fork and a spoon. And like straws. We just started talking with some manufacturers and we are getting some initial versions of edible straws. And we’re also in ground at home and at home in our company in India. We’re also working on the straws, but it’s I expect them to be there in the market by March of this year, March April of this year. And beyond that is chopsticks. So we already have the design sealed and confirmed and we will be enabling the chopsticks like June July. And again, it’s scaling slowly because it’s mostly bootstrapped business we’re not like heavily invested or anything. So these are the four shapes that we’re looking for and why I stuck with me and why I kind of like kept only with the Carter reporters. My research showed that the cutlery is the worst culprit especially with respect to the past coalition. The reason is the company postable are the biodegradable cutlery that they claim is not actually truly biodegradable unless you send it to the right composting facilities. So I spoke with some composting facilities, they hate cutlery, because there’s so much of what we call other plastic sources that get involved and polluted. So that’s why they hate it. And they directly divert to the landfills where they don’t compose properly. But if you look at the takeout box, like a cup, like a cup, or like even a clamshell, take or box or even a plate, it’s easy for them to compost if they are compostable, by the way, I want to be caution, they’re not a plastic one. If they are compostable, then it’s relatively easier for them to accept it. So it’s lesser of the evils. But that’s why I thought we’ll start with the cutlery a myth that as we grow, then we’ll introduce other shapes as needed.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So the interesting thing is, you said that you are an engineer, and you still have your full time job, you’re still working? Can you share with this? Is it because you love engineering and you want to continue it? Or is it more of a risk management thing where you know, you want to make sure that your business is generating enough income for you to be able to replace your, you know, daytime, job before you can go 100% in entrepreneurship,

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

it’s a mix of all the reasons that it claimed. So one, as actually, the biggest reason is immigration, not even be in my control. So I still am on a visa, I’m close, inching closer towards my green card, so I can’t really quit my job, if I have to stay here. So that’s one reason one of the biggest reasons. The second reason is, I am not doing this startup of mine, just to pay myself or you know, just to get more become rich, I want to make an impact first. So I put a goal to myself, till I reduce 100 million single use plastics from the planet. I will not take a penny from my business. And even even as a salary, I won’t take it. So then I have to sustain my family, how do I do that I have two young kids. So that’s the reason why my job is helping me with that. Yeah, the side, the side effect is I have to stay long, stay awake for a long time and work twice as hard as I should. So. So that’s but that’s the challenge that it took myself to, you know, make that impact. And even beyond that, I’m a very content person. So my as I mentioned, I My goal is not to be a millionaire, or make a million dollar company or a billion dollar company. As long as we make that much impact is what I’m more into, like literally, if I don’t mind giving, not having any profits if I can actually have an order of like spin million plastic or like edible sports from a company. That’s fine, because I am looking at the impact because that’s not there’s no life you just dependent on it as of now, because both me and Jack Dorcas my other partner has in in the US works with us. And, and back in India cruel as the main partner for with us. He’s also a partner of incredibly eats, and he wants to manufacturing facility in India and the Trishula. So cruel This is so he even he didn’t doesn’t expect anything from the US company. So he’s just trying to deal with them and scaling up in the Indian facility as well. So most of us, all of us are aligned with respect to the impact goal first. So make sure that it it helps the planet before even we think about making money.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So it seems like you definitely have to other partners. So you had that moment, that aha moment when you know, you saw all that plastic. What was the next step like, Did you I’m assuming you did not automatically think hey, can we can we make an edibles for like, how did you go from to actually creating this?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, sure, sure. So once that moment has happened, that lightning momentum that killed moment of us using so much plastic and why people are not thinking about See, my biggest question was, why aren’t we thinking about it in our actions? We hear about these things, but we we just feel sad, and we forget it. So my biggest concern was why as a regular people, like Yeah, I understand if you’re like, if you don’t have any money, you have to do assault on something like that, then it’s fine. But if we if you’re well fed, we are well educated and all that stuff. So why aren’t we thinking these such small things that are gonna help hurt us later on? I have kids that rather. So I did some market research for close to like four or five months. And I understood what are the alternatives that exist in the market for plastic. I swear I came across the compostable and biodegradable I did come across them before but I really I know they made from corn and spark acid, sugar cane and all that stuff. But they still go through a huge of a huge chemical process. And most of the products have Asterix on the top saying that it’s only compostable in composting facilities. So I realized that it’s a screen washing because cities don’t like literally I’m telling you that. I think there are just about eight to 10 major cities in the US which have composting facilities available, the rest of them don’t have so what’s the point? Like if the if it goes to the landfill, it’ll stay in and run out for like 500 years. So then it’s just a A false marketing that I’ve noticed so then I came across edible category actually it was the edible category existed even before a lot of people asked me there’s this company in India called bake cookies they had this they brought this they became super famous and you just copied off copied it from them and all that stuff. Yeah, I understand what were they getting at? Because people don’t know what’s what has happened. And hopefully all these talks that are not but I have explained them better. So I came across that I tried to approach them saying hey, yeah, why aren’t we making that edible cutlery at scale and making it better? But they haven’t responded? So I thought okay, fine. Let’s be like I was trying to find other alternative solutions like I was I was going through I went to India for using my maternity leave. And I like went met a lot of manufacturers I even went to the Monaco bar I went to Malaysia Singapore there like lot of places that I went to find the right alternatives to plastic. And what not just was a cutlery, right even for bags, plastic bags, even for water bottles, plastic bottles, like water bottles, so not just about cutlery I went and explored into other products. That’s why you will see a like a grocery bag on my website too right now. So then what happened? I met another part my current partner cruel he was also trying to make an edible cutlery. But I noticed what’s the difference between him and Becky’s? So by the time I went and met cruel Becky’s has already kind of close the shop. And we I actually had some contacts that will ask them why what happened to you guys, you will get became super famous millions of people came to know what your Why Why didn’t you succeed, that’s when we came to know that they didn’t, they lacked the engineering aspect of it. They in they found the product, they’re able to do it manually, but they couldn’t do it scalable, like they couldn’t make it scalable. So so they could really make hundreds of small if not 1000s of spawns per day. And that’s where my engineering degree came into use. Till then it was only like passion finding the right alternative right manufacturer and thankfully, crevel is a mechanical engineer to use to fix bikes and cars like literally like the machines used to take machines and build them by hand. So and I’m an electrical engineer by background and and also had this huge passion and like some money that I had to invest from my all my savings. So then crude oil, and we came up together, we spent a lot of time to make the machine first. Till then, till we made the machine it took us about one year, it’s didn’t happen overnight. And many trials. And the biggest challenge was the thickness or the hardness of the spoon or the spoon like or the sport, right? It has to be hard enough for us to use it and then easy enough to bite at after it has to have that balance. That was the hardest part because making something buy in an oven is not that hard, but making sure that the compression of the flour and the pressure and the tensile strength exists. So that’s what was the longest time taking aspect or in our in our in our journey. And around to those are 19th of February. That’s when the first machine that we invested in made about 100 spoons per day, just 100 spoons, but it’s a small one. And then I came to the US and I came back to the US at the time. And then I decided I went to a show. Oh, by the way, when I came back, I had a big question. I’m not from the food industry. I have zero experience in the food industry. I only bought and ate food never sold food to anyone before. So how do I learn it? So that’s when I know that the trade shows exist. And I Googled all the list of trade shows that I need to go to I separated out by cost because I didn’t have that much money because I have most of the money I had I saved I invested in the facility. So I chose the ones which are very, very local and regional not like like not like Expo West in Fancy Food Show and all the big guys. So very small ones which are reasonably priced. And I actually asked them hey, can you please give me a free booth or at least share me a booth with someone else? Because this is going to save the planet I did some like wacky or very different approach of contacting people and just asking them my heart out saying showing the passion and asking them hey, do something good and help me out here. Few people. Actually there are a couple of trade shows which gave me free bottles. They’re very small regional ones but but they understood the need of this. And the first trade show event was in February right off like two weeks after I came back here after the machines we figured out okay disabled to make the product. I got like about like 20 or 30 spoons in my hand. That was a cater sauce in New Orleans. It’s a it’s a show where all like all the caterers meet across the America. And I went there I got a small booth and I didn’t have any banners or any decoration or any nothing I just went there with a suitcase just few printouts like a paper printouts of the port product s and what the cost is and just a few spoons in my hand. That’s it. But I had a booth like it’s a small five by 10 booth. And I literally had to go to Walmart get a table and a chair. I didn’t because I didn’t I was not prepared. This was the first time going to a trade show. zero clue what needs to be done there. I looked at all these fancy Bucha like oh my god I was like overwhelmed what is gonna happen to like but it doesn’t matter. I went there to learn right then to sell, because I wanted to understand how the food industry works, how do they sell? What are the different terms? What are the different conditions? What are the different cost pricing? What what is the margin that we need to include? I need to understand that right? My whole point to go to the show is to meet people talk to them and understand you can’t learn that in a Google or an nmpa. People. You get through the trade experience in this thing. So once I went there, the last day of the show a caterer from Canada came in and he asked me one question, I will order 150,000 spoons right now, right now, can you give me the best cost? I slashed all my margins what I thought it should have. And I told him, Okay, this is the cost. He said, Yes, please take the order. I need 150,000 sports. So that’s me. That’s my first order. 150k I might buy in fact, he was not even ready for that. Okay. So so that’s when I became back home. I told him, I’ll do it give me like four months, and I’ll do it. I told him cope. I openly told him like, yeah, my facility doesn’t have that capacity right now. But I can increase it make it better. But give me like four months time and I’ll fulfill the fulfill it for

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

you. Did he prepare the

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

most of the most of the people in food industry pain like net 30. Net 45 Forget about free payments. So So I came back home, I told talk to my wife, I told her, we have to sell this home, I had a home in California at the time I bought it like in the right time. So at all, I told her, the only way I can fulfill this order is by selling the home. And we should do it. And thankfully my wife who is also the partner in the company right now she agreed to it. And we sold the home, we invested that money and the facility, we scaled it up and within four to five months, we fulfill that order to Canada. So yeah, so that that’s how it started. And I never stopped going to the trade shows in 2019. Alone, I went to nine trade shows, spoke to close to 3000 people to understand how the food industry works. And meanwhile sold close to a million spoons.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So are you selling mostly to like businesses who are doing something else with the foods or or is it mostly like a consumer?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Right? Initially, my approach was b2b businesses. The reason is, that’s where majority of the plastic consumption is like if you go to ice cream chain like a chain of ice cream shops or like caterers or even even like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, all these big chains, all these food service chains, even take outs and restaurants. So I wanted to approach the problem there rather than going directly to the people and asking them to use us because see, at that point, my my thought process was if if I don’t want to sell it to a directive consumer because a consumer has an option to take his reusable spoon or sport from his home to somebody who is going outside. He should not be using my product just for the fun of it. But I want him to be truly sustainable. Because no matter what I am going to be harnessing that reusable stainless steel reusable spoon or a spork is the best option, not edible spoons. But yes, if you have a single use need, like for example, if you’re going on a hike, or if you if you have a huge birthday party at your home, and you don’t want to wash all the utensils, yes, but for those exceptional cases where single use is kind of a must. Yeah, please do that. Please use edible sponsor edible sports. But beyond that, as much as, as any person listening to this, I want them to use Reusables because that’s one that’s going to help the planet no matter what. So, but COVID changed my thought process because COVID is when all the b2b got shut down. It was very hard for them. I couldn’t sell more to them. But people have started approaching me and saying hey, that they changed my thought process like I know a few people who came back and said, Hey, I’m taking the spoons in my in my wallet to the to the store. Like in my it’s always in my purse. I have like few few spoons in the car, a few spoons in my wallet. So when I go to my next take out or ice cream I don’t want I am happily saying no to the plastic spoon that’s offered. And I’m taking the spoon from my from my wallet and eat a man from a person eating eating with that. So that’s when I and I had time also by the time to convert to b2c and direct to consumer. So that’s when we switched over. And we do we still do both. We still do both my my my focus 70% is b2b 30%, b2c. And your business

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

has been growing since year over year. So far.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, first year was very good. But then 2020 Because of COVID everything kind of went on a screeching halt. And 2020 August is when we started enabling the product and Amazon and Shopify billing before that we didn’t sell anything. So literally first half first half of 2020 It was almost nil because all my screens stopped because they couldn’t help it themselves. It was trying too hard to stay stay afloat. One thing we noticed was this product has a very good word of mouth or marketing aura to it. So one one very interesting fact that we came out was we spent only like close to $2,000 in ads and marketing. We made a close 80,000 in revenue direct to consumers, okay? That was very surprising because I didn’t have to spend a lot of CPG companies spend a lot of money on ads. But I, thankfully, I had a lot of organic outreach. But again, it was not all super successful, I would say, because we went very slow. I didn’t, I didn’t rush. The reason I didn’t rush was one thing I understood, attending all the shows and meeting so many people. People skip that critique phase. Like, if I’m bringing a product to the market, when you are an addict, when we make it, it’s our baby. So we love it, we think it’s the best in the world. But that might not be the reality. People might not conceive it or perceive it in the same way that we do. Because they didn’t make it they didn’t go through this entire effort of making that they just buying it and using it. So they might not go understand the pain behind it. So we I wanted to understand how this fits in the market or how people are liking it. And and there’s no comparison, right? Like, for example, if I make a new type of cupcake people knows people know what a cupcake is, and how it should taste. So they can expect something or don’t expect something. But when I’m bringing something to the market, which people never tried, which never even heard off, the expectations are not there. And it might either go very well or it might go very bad. That’s what happened initially. So when we went to direct to consumer, we got very bad reviews, like I think about 30 out of 100 reviews, like 30% of the reviews were very bad, either. Some people complain, they’re very hard. Some people are saying they’re expecting it’s like a pure chocolate, which melts in your mouth. Not like utility, but more like a snack. But that that helped us change our packaging. So all those things, the feedback, right? So we literally enjoyed when we got a bad review. I didn’t have it. And it made me happy. But I was not very happy when I got a five star review. But I was super happy when I got a one star review. Because I needed to understand what people think about and not what I think about it because I know I’m biased to it. So that that’s one of the biggest reasons why we went very, very slow in the first two two and a half years. We didn’t spend a penny on advertisements we didn’t marketed we just like organic, I went in pictures I spoke with people I spoke to podcasts, like we got some good free public review, like press reviews, press releases and all that stuff. So it was all very, very organic. The only big expenditure was my trade shows because I had to spend some places. So and once we got all this feedback, we converted our spoons to the newer shape, we researched it more and we made it thinner too. So it’s easy to buy it but made it wider. So it’s still stay firm to eat with your identity or food. So all those things, we made some changes. The taste was like initially, it was very bad. Then we understood how to add sugar to it. Again, we are not food guys, right? So that’s the thing that we needed to make sure that we need people like it rather than us liking it. So that again, even right now I wouldn’t say all the 100 people or 100 or 200 people would like it, I’m pretty sure that are like 10 to 15 people who would hate it, that’s fine. But I made it better from 30. People hating hating it to 10 to 15 people hating it, you can’t make all the people happy, but that’s fine. So but we improved on it. And thankfully, our and thankfully, I don’t know what happened. But it Shark Tank approached us when we want to. One thing I did was a free trade show event. I used to attend the pitch competition. And I used to pitch for it. I still apply for any pitch competitions that I see. I would have I don’t even remember the count. I just know that if I find an opportunity, I just go there. I don’t care if it gives me sales or not. I want that visibility. And that helped me a lot. Because once we want the pitch Boehner competition and Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in 2020 that caught the eye of the Shark Tank producing and they approached us

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

and did you go there with the intention of getting the investment? Or was it also more of like?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Both both? Obviously, marketing you can’t. Everyone knows that’s a huge opportunity for your free marketing or somebody that you can get. That’s one part. The second part is I needed help that especially with an investor who knows the retail connections. So working with retail and CPG is a huge thing. It’s like literally you won’t make money the first five years, the CPG industry, especially in retail b2b is a different ballgame altogether. But b2c retail direct to consumer retail is a very once I learned that I was scared I wasn’t I was literally literally afraid when Whole Foods came in and said hey, I want I want to try a product like no no, no, no, no, let’s not do it right now. It’s not the time because the cost the unit economics don’t make that much sense. Once you go into that retail because there’s a distribution there’s a retail wholesale margin the like too many things. buybacks give backs free Phil’s free ballots like it’s a huge thing altogether. So the person without a food industry background it would be super hard for me. So one of the reasons I went there I thought it would help me was one of the sharks, most of the sharks have this huge experience in selling the CPG products. So their expertise would help me propel forward forward faster. So that’s the second reason why I want to go there. And it truly, I really wanted one of them because forget about equity, forget about things. See, my my goal is what? Impact right? And with a shock, that impact can be made very fast. I know that for sure. So that that’s one of the biggest reasons why it’s not about like, I don’t care about valuation, equity and all that stuff, that’s all secondary. But the first thing is impact. And having a shark with you in your team will obviously propel that impact faster.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So I know that these days, consumers are very interested, especially in the Western world, very interested in sustainability and trying to do their part in terms of you know, trying to save the planet. So, you know, a product like this definitely appeals to that kind of consumer. Have you seen, you know, based on your success, or the success that you’re getting now? Have you seen other other competitors enter in this kind of market? And try to? So like, do you do you see other competitors selling similar products on Amazon? And do you have any patterns to protect against those metal? Things?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

On the impact side, having people more people doing this is actually good for the planet? Yeah, it might hurt my business, but that’s okay. But as of now, we don’t see that many options which are edible, because we went from the market research that we did, I don’t think there’s any other company which is, which has a scale that we can do. Again, there are few companies which come up with it. But scaling is what matters, right? I mean, yeah, I’m telling you, right? If you have, if you have like two to three weeks in your hand, and the right moles, you can make it at home. It’s not such a big amount of big rocket science. But again, scaling it making a millionaire per day is what is where the challenge comes in. And we are patent pending on the process. The process that we invented, how to scale this up is one we are paid, what we fly patent on, we didn’t apply patent or edible category, there are a lot of them already. So it’s about how to make them a squat differentiates us rather than the product itself.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And what is unique about the process that makes me really curious, like, what was the big challenge in terms of scale? Because I would think with so many consumer products, like that problem would have been solved already.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

It might have it’s i To be frank, I really don’t know how the other things are made. Like I did research on some of the cookie manufacturing before, but our processes will different. See, the biggest challenge here is the spoon or the cutlery need to have the strength. It’s easy to bake a cookie, but obviously you can’t scoop anything out of it, it breaks immediately. That pressure or that compression on the tensile strength is what is the technique that we kind of that Google figured out how we went through that.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay. So you’re not in retail right now.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

We are. But the problem right now is inventory. See, remember I told you switch switched from the old product to the new product. So because of COVID, the new product, the new the new machinery for the new 2.0 product got delayed, and the last six months we To be frank, even after going on Shark Tank, we couldn’t sell more because we were out of inventory. What total? what do what do I do with it right? So and the logistics is not helping me that if anything coming from India to here, it’s taking six to seven weeks. So there a lot of these challenges that we’re going through, even though we got so much of publicity, we can’t sell more, because we don’t have more. But slowly they’re ramping up like right now, just like in the last few weeks, we can now make about 30,000 new spoons per day, we had the capacity of the old phones like six months ago, but because we switched, we had to not stop all our old sponsor, we can’t sell both old and new, right, it doesn’t make sense. You already made improvements to it. So that’s what the biggest challenge is right now. Previously, we are in about 300 to 400 TJ Maxx, Marshalls and home goods stores and the gourmet food section. That’s the only retail that we agreed to because they didn’t have any distributor, all this headache. They just got the product from a warehouse and they sold they took care of the sales. I didn’t have to market for them on behalf of them. So that’s why I agreed to them. And we consistently got sold out there. So I don’t even I can’t even claim that it exists there right now because it’s also allowed. So yeah, right now we do have only small spoons, vanilla and chocolate and stocking our website. So if anyone wants to try it out, they can visit incredible eats.com to look at to try those two flavors out. I’m sorry, we’re out of the black pepper, Oregon actually and playing and other sports and other fun things that we have. It will be in stocks like mid March or late March. So there’s a lot of coming in. I mean, yeah, and another good news is we are we just recently partnered with the dipinto acts so soon in your nearest zoos or aquariums or theme parks or even a Dippin Dots store mites you will see in the upcoming summer some of that it will sponsor their ice creams.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, so are you following the direct to consumer? Are you doing any marketing any paid marketing? So, you know, okay,

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

right now No, because I sell right, I need to have inventory to do some marketing what? So you always like brought something, sold it off, brought something sold it off? So how will I market it if I don’t have anything to sell? So that’s one of the reasons and other thing as we’re going through this transition of the stoop 1.0 to 2.0. So I wanted to the transition to complete before I invest money in marketing, so to be frank, like the total ad money, like literally the social media ad money in the last two and a half years I spent was only $40.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay. What is your fulfillment shipping strategy? So when you get orders? Do you do you have a fulfillment fulfillment partner? How do you ship it out?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, the recently switched, we went to ship hero ship, it is on three PL. We send the product to them and they ship it out to the entire United States, they have one location and Pennsylvania one answer last week isn’t this other than Texas right now we’re at two locations to ship it to Eastern West Coast customers. And one thing we noticed is carbon emissions because of freight, because we’re shipping the product from India to here and here also shipping within from the from the warehouse to the customers. So we calculate all the freight all the carbon emissions from the factory to your plate. And we compensated twice, so making us carbon negative. So I can proudly say we are one of the very few products which are carbon negative, that means we offset twice the emissions that we make.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And for anyone who doesn’t know what that means, like you pay out twice the amount of money to do a company that does what

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

the 888 actually does twice. Two things. It works with the products across the world for oneness by planting trees to offset the emissions. Second, it will apply opportunities where it can convert future emissions with solar or wind or other types of energy. So it’s called Greenprint. You can look into their website impact Collective is there or is there a firm for CBD products. So that basically says you give them like they calculate the total distance traveled and everything and they give us a cost saying that, hey, per spoon, this is what you need to pay us for it to be truly carbon negative. And another interesting thing we do is plastic negative. That’s very rare. People don’t think about plastic impact. And that’s one of the biggest things we do as well. A lot of people a lot of companies talk about carbon negative carbon neutral, even if you look open google.com It will say carbon neutral since 2007. But they never put anything how much plastics they consume. So I keep telling two people that there are two major threats for our future children and future generations. One is climate other is plastics. For some reason, climate always Trump’s first because people can feel it, people can feel the heat, people can feel the cold. But plastics just gets in gets gets hidden because people don’t feel the plastic. But soon they are starting to feel right now the research shows that humans are consuming up to a credit card sized microplastics every week, this microplastics in your baby’s poop this microplastics in the remote locations inside the Yosemite where there’s no contact to the sea or the oceans at all. So nature is giving back to us but people are not worried about it because they don’t feel it too personally yet. And soon they will so so that’s why we actually calculate any plastic that’s used from the factory till the consumer like for example, if Amazon is sending my box of spoons in a plastic bubble mailer, I hate it I’m telling not to use it but they sometimes use it and if they use it I calculate how much weight of the plastic is and I give this third party organization to go pick up the equivalent amount of plastic from the oceans which are already exists in the oceans and and reuse it with respect to recycling it and using it again in the in the in the nature I hate I don’t like it, but that’s the best I could do. So I even have wrapper on my pallet a pallet is generally pallets get wrapped in plastic and shipped over. That’s that’s one of the requirements. I don’t know why. But anyways, so that wrapper, I calculate how much weight I use it and I take it from the ocean. So I’m trying to be as good as I can because I believe a business or a startup should think about these big questions first, rather than thinking about money first and then thinking about this, because if you look at the current companies, I don’t want to name anyone, but a lot of big companies which are the worst polluters of polluters of plastic and the world. After becoming billions of dollars of companies now they’re thinking about it, but who’s responsible for the past decade or two decades or three decades? Are there things even now they’re not saying we’ll change it, we will saying, Oh, by 2050, I’ll do this. So I hate I kind of hate that because I don’t want that to be in my in my company because I want this to be purely built on a base that yeah, impact first, then everything comes down else comes next. How big is your team is it really just you and your partner? So yeah, crew will take so the fact takes care of the factory in India, I think right now we have 35 people working at the factory. And we also only employ people who are who used to live under $5 a day. So even we are trying to on the human aspect of it. Also, we’re trying to be nice. And all the waste in the factory gets fed to the stray dogs and cows and animals across across the city that we go, we go feed them because there’s some ways to this breakage. And for some reason, the factory, right, and we do good as much as we can. And coming back to the US. It’s me and I met Jack three or four months since I started this business. Jack has been an amazing guy. He used to be our vice president of sales. Now he’s also a partner of the company. And he also has a work, he doesn’t take up any too. He’s also purely passionate and doing good to the planet. And he has he has worked four days a week and three days a week, he works for incredible. And just to have first right now short running the show as of now. And we have a mentor Mike Barrow from one of our venture capitalist accelerator program that we participated in. And he started recently taking care of the retail. Yeah, just two, three of us. And he’s just a contracting to us right now.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay. In every entrepreneurs journey, there’s always, you know, times when you know, they make mistakes, or they’re failures in the process. Can you share, like maybe your biggest mistake or failure that you think, you know, happened in the, in your entrepreneurial process? And what can others learn from it?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, sure. So one of the biggest mistakes I made initially was to trust everyone, because I remember I told her, I’m not new to this industry, right? So I met a lot of people and some people, most of the people are very great, especially in food industry, they’re very helpful. They tell you, they don’t hide any data from you ask you a question, they immediately give you an answer. But there were few people who approached me saying that they will represent my company, my product and make sales across the US make it super big and all that and I trusted them. And I lost close to 15 to 20k, giving retainer, some cash to them. And that was the biggest mistake I made. But it’s an expensive mistake. But that made me realize that I need to be careful with whom I work with. And again, I would blame my inexperience to that. Because if I had an experience, I wouldn’t have just agreed blindly Yes, to someone like that. It’s just they had a very good, strong convincing factor that I just agreed to. But now it’s a good a good experience. Now I’m like any, any broker or anyone who’s coming and saying, Hey, I, I’ll do this, I’ll do that. Give me this or like, okay, yeah, you can do it and then take the money not, not before. So, so I know, I know how to reply back. And you know, that’s one of the, again, it’s, it’s, I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of failure, but it’s a good experience and expect expensive experience, I would say. So, but that’s, that’s one of the things that I learned. And the second thing would be, I’m not raising as much as I should, especially not having much experience of the foreign ministry and expanding my team, I’m still trying to get fixed that see, my bigger biggest concern is I just don’t want to hire someone for the sake of hiring them. I want to find another jack, right, who is truly passionate. I mean, I don’t expect them to work for free. No, that’s not my goal. It’s my goal is they should not come with the, with the fact saying, hey, I want to make this much money. And I want to be the employee, three of the company so that I can make millions later. I don’t want to be the person to think like that. But it’s very hard to find someone who doesn’t think like that. So that’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m taking it super slow to expand my team because I want that passion to be shared as much as I can. And, and, yeah, so that’s the second thing, which I’m still trying to struggle because I shouldn’t be doing this all by myself or me and Jack, I need to have a good team to do this and support me and that’s how it will grow faster rather than just me trying to handle multiple things, Jack.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So now we’re going to move on to the rapid fire round where I’m going to ask you a quick few questions and you have to answer them maybe in one word or two words. One book recommendation that you would recommend to entrepreneurs in 2022 and why

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

this is book from Dale Carnegie I’m pretty sure most of you guys know how to influence people and make friends. That’s an amazing book doesn’t matter what sales and all that but it makes it gives you an idea how to talk to people and how to be nice so that I like that a lot.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retailer tech landscape that you feel excited about.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

I feel excited about the new innovations in packaging that are coming through. There are a lot of people who are trying to convert to waste agricultural waste into biofilms. Switch can compose easily. And also water soluble materials. So because a lot of forget about apart from the cutlery and this like table there and all that a lot, unfortunately, a lot of things get packed in plastic. So I wish to not see that anymore. So I’m I get very excited when I see those things

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or productivity tip. Of course, you’re working quite a bit. So you must

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

know, there I mean a lot of these project management apps like I we use HubSpot, we also use notion and now recently used Asana for another one of our designers. And, again, see, I can’t say one or two, because you have to find the right match for you. What I’m trying to say might not match your business at all, but just find the right match. And keep searching for it. Just explore it most of these tools have like one or two months free trial period. So just explore them, see whether you’re using them and then and then use them continue with them or get rid of them. So make their decisions. And yeah, so business side be very, very, very vertical miser, I would say, on your expenses, because that helped me a lot. I didn’t really because for me see you coming from India, I still have this feeling to the back of my head, that each dollar is 70 times more valuable because it’s 70 rupees, right? So that that kind of helps me because I can’t really put 4000 $5,000 for ads, because then I can convert that to a number that I have to go tell my dad I’m like, Oh my God, he’s gonna just like why the question will come is why why do you have to spend so much so that kind of helped me i Some people say it hurted me, but it’s okay. It hurts me. But so that’s one thing. I mean, you will find other alternatives Right. Like, for example, the Dippin Dots partnership that I made. Recently we made recently, it all went because of LinkedIn messages. That doesn’t cost you much. I mean, I am also one thing I would recommend all the entrepreneurs sign up for that LinkedIn Sales Navigator that helped me with so many connections that I find important connections. Yeah, they might not help you learn the business that you need to really go on the field and meet people. But to actually meet, connect to it, it takes time it takes time and insurance, I literally spent 30 minutes a day for six months to find the contact of Dippin Dots and meet them, right? Send them the right message at the right time. So all those things matter. So but again, but the tool is pretty good. So and it didn’t call it just costed me like $80 a month. That’s not a lot. It’s like my phone bill. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

yeah. Appear

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

BB vacu. about marketing, like don’t think you have to spend money to let people know that it exists. I can another small example, I can use one of a very famous pop singer, I can’t disclose her name. She referred us I approached her without spending a penny on marketing. I approached her and she introduced us to Live Nation and LiveNation introduces to concert hall. And we sold the first and 1000s fonts to a concert hall back in 2020. So all this without spending a penny. So we can do it. It’s just take some time and patients

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

appear entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

you. There are many that’s what I’m thinking. So there are quite a few people.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Like the first person that comes to mind.

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

First Person is my partner who will itself because yeah, he’s 90% of his effort on the machinery. So the drive that he had was pretty good.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And the final question, best business advice you ever received, or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

Yeah, drive with a lot of passion. So that trumps everything and along your journey, please think about the planet. Because trust me, it will. Your the luck factor of your business will change a lot. Once you start thinking about nature, it’s going to give back to you. Perfect. And you can show me as an example by getting approached to a shark tank even with a visa on the US on my series on my passport. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

yeah, perfect. Perfect. Well, thank you. Thank you, Denise. I really appreciated I mean, I I definitely appreciate all the passion that you have in terms of saving the planet and making a difference and for sharing your story sharing, you know how you grew your business started your business. And yeah, thank you so much for joining us today

Dinesh Tadepalli of Incredible Eats  

at Dropbox. Yeah, thanks. So Shawn for the opportunity. sincerely appreciate it. Likewise, and please eat your spoon today. Sorry.

Also, get inspired to Create a Profitable Online Business with Janne Kyllönen – Inventing Noise Cancellation Earbuds for Sleeping


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