It feels like we’re running this twenty-year-old startup that just got funded.
The first light seeps through the frosted window
A crisp draft glides around the room
You cling to the covers, and think, “not yet, morning’s come too soon”
But then that waft,
The smell of children’s laughter,
The smell of cable knits and cuddles.
It smells of simpler times
and wholesome innocence.
It smells of whole grains
Kodiak Cakes on the stove
Courage in your heart
Suddenly morning’s arrived just in time.
Last month Sunrise Strategic Partners announced their minority investment in Kodiak Cakes, maker of premium, better-for-you, breakfast items including high-protein, non-GMO pancake/waffle mixes, flapjack/muffin cups, and syrups. “It feels like we’re running this twenty-year-old startup that just got funded,” says Kodiak Cakes CEO Joel Clark. “For a long time, we really thought at some point we would need to get funding.” Clark and his team, however, held off on fundraising until they had built a business base large enough to accommodate accelerated growth. “There is something really nice about being a small business for a while,” Clark says, then admonishes other entrepreneurs to, “Pursue your vision for a while. Let it become established and get proven.” Clark practices what he preaches. It was only when Kodiak Cakes growth rate remained at 100% for five years that the company decided it was time to accept funding.
Kodiak Cakes, as an official brand, started in 1995. But the Clark family’s passion for healthy breakfasts started long before then. Clark remembers being 8 years old, walking around the neighborhood selling his mom’s special pancake mix packaged in lunch sacks out of a red wagon. “We were brought up on everything whole wheat,” Clark explains. That emphasis on whole grains and protein is what has differentiated Kodiak Cakes and what helped them land a segment on Shark Tank. “Shark Tank was like the coolest experience ever,” Clark says. Even though Clark ultimately declined offers from the sharks, the publicity was well worth their time and effort. Kodiak Cakes processed $1,000,000 in sales within six weeks of the episode airing. Target completely ran out of Kodiak Cakes inventory and the Kodiak Cakes team scrambled to ship more. “It was crazy what [Shark Tank] did,” Clark says. By 2014 Kodiak Cakes’ Powercakes mix was the number one selling pancake mix at Target by 25%. “People love it,” Clark says. “They love the taste and the whole grains and protein.”
Clark plans to use the Sunrise Strategies investment to scale growth in a number of categories. “We feel like our brand can really go into a lot of different areas,” he says, explaining that while there is still opportunity in the pancake category, he plans to explore baking, snacking, and other categories as well. The time is right for this growth, as consumers increasingly turn to smaller brands for their products. “There’s a real food revolution going on,” Clark says. “People trust small food right now.” The funding will provide Kodiak Cakes the resources necessary to compete and stay ahead in the food disruption. And it will provide you and me freaking delicious and nutritious breakfasts.