Meet the Founders: Brad Armistead and Andrew Chi of Salivation Snackfoods
College pals Andrew Chi and Brad Armistead both wound up working in the corporate food world. Andrew dealt with candy bars; Brad focused on fizzy fruit drinks. They loved the concept of “fun food,” but they weren’t wild about the amount of sugar in their products. Once they discovered the magic of the keto diet, their next business venture was born.
Fudgy and chocolatey with three net carbs and zero gluten, these keto- and paleo-friendly desserts only taste like a sin. Recently, we caught up with Brad and Andrew to learn more about their journey and hear their advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Salivation Snackfoods?
We were first introduced to the ketogenic diet by a close friend who was using it to help fight a very serious disease. The science behind the low-carb/high-fat approach was sound, but keto-friendly snacks were few and far between…and only a handful of them were actually good.
There was a clear need for delicious, keto-friendly desserts, and we knew that we could fill the void. Naturally, we started with America’s favorite: the brownie!
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
First off, we’re not pastry chefs! We personally attempted an obscene number of recipes before sharing our best one with an actual pastry chef. She tore it apart in five seconds flat! We were humbled, but determined, and we embraced the challenge of creating delicious brownies that were also keto, paleo, and gluten-free. With help from a true kitchen master, we pulled it off.
As a small company with limited capital, it was also a challenge to find partners we could count on. Early on, we worked with a manufacturer who cashed our checks but didn’t deliver the promised goods. We were preparing to debut at a major health conference — that was a six month setback at the worst possible time. We managed to find a new partner, but we really cut it close. Literally. We arrived one hour late with our brownies in generic white packaging! Fortunately, it all worked out, because that’s where we were discovered by Bristol Farms.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs have to wear many hats. Actually, they have to wear every hat. No one can be great at everything, so you have to be brave enough to ask questions when you need answers. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people and partners who complement your skillset.
Networking with other entrepreneurs is also crucial. Take them out to lunch, tap their brains, and put their knowledge to good use. I can’t tell you how much we’ve learned over the course of our one-hour lunches. They’ll save you tons of time and money — two things you never have enough of as a business owner.
04 What’s on the horizon for Salivation Snackfoods?
Our retail rollout really only started in October of last year, but we’re already developing our next line. This time around, we skipped the monkeying-around-in-the-kitchen part and went straight to our amazing pastry chef. We can’t wait for the big reveal — this has the potential to be unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Breaking the mold isn’t easy, but we’re on a mission. At Salivation Snackfoods, our goal is to continuously create new low carb desserts that taste like they’re heaven-sent.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
When you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, there’s not much distinction between “work” (What do I do to put food on the table?) and “life” (What would I rather be doing?). That said, we both recognize the need to recharge. We make it a point to spend time with family, meditate, get outside, and get away from the computer whenever possible. It also helps that our families are a part of the business. From pitching in at a trade show to making samples, our loved ones are always involved in some capacity.
Changing the industry is a thrill, but our greatest source of inspiration comes from meeting our fans. The woman with a blood glucose monitor that didn’t budge after having one of our brownies. The mother of a young cancer survivor who said our brownies helped her son stay on his prescribed ketogenic diet. Moments like that make us feel like we are doing some good in the world.