In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Jared Jacobs, principal at CAVU Consumer Partners, on effective leadership, team-building, and behavioral shifts in wellness.
What are your biggest learnings from 2022?
Jared Jacobs: As a proud Michigan alum, I’m fond of the phrase: THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.
A brand is simply an extension of the individuals behind it. Product, packaging, category, and timing are all critical elements, but the real secret is the people. Leadership matters. Exceptional founders and management teams always find a way to improve and make their companies better, even during periods of uncertainty.
Additionally, you have to be invested in businesses that are category creators or true disruptors. A brand with substantive product differentiation or some sort of moat really matters. Funds have higher investment bars now, and brands with incremental or marginal innovation won’t get funded.
How is the macroeconomic environment impacting dealmaking?
JJ: People want to feel better about themselves. And that fundamentally starts with what they put in their body (food, beverage, supplements), on their body (personal care), and how they move their body (fitness).
I’m convinced that even during a recession, the fundamental behavioral shifts happening across the consumer landscape will continue. Valuation multiples are definitely contracting, but businesses that are truly differentiated, have strong unit economics, and are competing in large categories will still be compelling and get funded.
What surprised you most in 2022 — what trend or market did you change your mind about?
JJ: It’s clear to us that non-alc alternatives are definitely here to stay! As one of those aforementioned fundamental behavioral shifts, consumers are trying to drink less — even if they’re not trying to cut alcohol out entirely.
What trends or opportunities are you most excited about going into 2023?
JJ: The tailwinds fueling the pet category right now are staggering. 1 in 5 households adopted a pet in the pandemic, which means 70% of US households now own a least one pet.
Modern pet parents want to feed their pets like they feed themselves. All of the successful trends from CPG over the past decade—better-for-you ingredients, cleaner product labels, functionality—are just starting to hit pet. I remain excited by opportunities “around the pet bowl” that redefine pet wellness.
What advice would you give founders facing uncertainty in the current economic climate?
JJ: Find ways to go on offense if you can:
- Invest in a new piece of equipment to get better margins.
- Double down on an efficient marketing strategy that shows promise (I’m seeing a lot more brands becoming successful on TikTok).
- Explore a new sales channel.
- Renegotiate a broker or supplier contract.
- Be aggressive taking price early in the new year, as it will be much harder to do so in the back half of ’23.
- If you can, raise enough capital for ~18 months of runway.
And lastly, perhaps most importantly, continue to build your tribe by demonstrating to consumers your reason to exist.