Under The Hood: Zach from Raize

Under The Hood: Zach from Raize

Speaking with the man who sells lots of keto cookies: Zach from Raize!

Welcome Zach! RAIZE has been blowing up recently. When did it start? 

We formally launched RAIZE to the public in January of 2022 after starting our work in July of 2021. 

The quick background is that the idea came to me when I first started to learn about what makes up a healthy diet. I wanted to really dive into how I could shift my eating habits to look better, feel better, have more energy, live longer, all the great things you hear about from a healthy diet. 

And when I dove into the research, one key thing that kept coming back was you should try and spike your blood sugar less. So that means less sugar, fewer refined carbs, and generally keeping your blood sugar levels stable. This led me to do the keto diet myself.

But I have a massive sweet tooth, and I still wanted to enjoy dessert. So that led me to trying every keto friendly, low sugar, low carb dessert I could find on the market. And generally I was pretty disappointed with what I found. 

I was really looking for the keto equivalent of the fresh neighborhood bakery, just with better and healthier ingredients. That led me to partner with our Head Chef, Jeff Yoskowitz, who's an awesome guy and previously ran the baking and pastry arts program at one of the top culinary schools here in New York. 

We started working on the business in July 2021. Opened up in January of 2022, and started selling D2C. 

And what's the growth been for those first 11 months?

In the initial months we were doing kind of sub $10k revenue per month, mostly driven by word of mouth. And then over time, our audience started to spread organically + we added some paid campaigns and now, we’re doing over $50k in monthly revenue. 

Fantastic. And has the team grown beyond you and your head chef? 

We now have 8 other folks in there on a daily basis with us, helping with all things related to producing cookies, packaging them and shipping them out. 

Tell me a little bit about the expectations on the business when you started. Did you always have big ambitions for it? 

I definitely have a big vision for RAIZE. We want to be the go-to healthy, fresh baked cookie for people across the country. 
My mindset going into RAIZE was simple however: 

Let's create a product that people actually want and that solves a problem. I’m less interested in setting concrete expectations of what growth will look like over time. I’m more interested in telling myself that every day I'm gonna do whatever I can to further the value creation of our business.

Love that mindset. Tell me about your lean supply chain.

Right now we are almost exclusively a direct to consumer business, though we do see ourselves expanding more into the wholesale channel moving forward. 

The most efficient way for us to get to market initially was to do all of our own production and fulfillment from our kitchen in New Jersey – basically creating a small commercial bakery in an available kitchen space. We don't work with any contract manufacturers or 3PLs. We do everything ourselves and we do all of our recipe development ourselves. 

And because we are creating a very different cookie from what's currently on the market, our batter is very different from the traditional cookie batter. It’s softer, more difficult to work with, and cannot move through the regular machinery that a typical contract manufacturer will have. 

So we’ve had to get specialized equipment for what we're doing. That means we're creating our own production model to allow ourselves to scale with the product that we want to deliver to consumers. 

To do all of this: Did you fundraise? What was that like? 

I initially started RAIZE with my own savings and then got support from investors as we grew. 

I previously worked as an investor in the finance industry. My colleagues and friends joked that I’d be the guy to start a keto cookie business… and then I did. I figured “what’s the worst that can happen”. If I fail, I’ll learn a lot. Life’s too short to not do the things we care about. 

So I decided to start RAIZE with my own savings at first - I thought it’d be an easier path than to sell investors on an idea for a D2C cookie business. 
Those savings got us through recipe development and a few months after launch. After that, we raised $600k in seed capital from great seed investors including Pareto Holdings and other prolific individuals in the space. 

Let's talk about your paid acquisition strategies. What’s worked? 

Our biggest acquisition channel is Facebook / Instagram. We are seeing more organic inbound purchasers on our site over time. But core acquisition does happen through paid media. 

Tactically, when you click one of our ads with messaging around the keto diet, you’ll come to a landing page that is keto focused and highlights, “The first keto cookie that actually tastes delicious.” Upon landing, the consumer genuinely feels like “Wow, I’m finally in the right place.” 

It’s the simple cohesion in messaging backed with proof points via reviews on the site that have really been the only key to our paid media wins. 

You also run “product flavor drops” right? What does that look like?

Yes! We actually just started this in November. We do monthly limited edition flavor drops, which we believe will be an influential driver in engagement, community building, lifetime value, and repeat purchase rates for our customers. 

Raize product drop

What’s the mechanic?

We have a Facebook community, and we have our text channel. And in both of those channels we send out a survey, offering up 3 flavor options. 

Users vote on which flavor they’d like - and within a week, we give it to them. We only bake a single batch of cookies to make sure we are efficient in our ingredient usage - and it’s a model that really works for us.

Simply put: Customers ask, and we deliver. It’s a no-brainer. 

That reminds me a lot of the Obvi strategy. What are some of the tools that are powering RAIZE today?

We use core Shopify for eCommerce. Klaviyo for email. For SMS we use Wizard, which is newer on the market - they’re focused on conversational commerce with real humans on the other side of the text messages. 
We use Prive on subscription. For any kind of proactive issue detection we use TrackStar. Our slide out cart is powered by Rebuy. Our reviews are via Okendo, and we use Reconvert for post-purchase upsells. 

Last question then. If you had to attribute your success to one thing, what would that be?

Create a great product that solves a problem for people. 

Clean and simple. Boom! Thank you for sharing your insights Zach. Congrats on the growth and can’t wait to see more of it!