Angie Bastian and her husband, Dan, transformed an upstart kettle corn business into a national brand that empowers women. She shared the story of Angie’s BoomChickaPop during the 2021 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Virtual Conference Tuesday.
Angie worked as a nurse practitioner and Dan taught history when they borrowed $8,000 from their credit cards to start the business to build their children’s college fund.
“One thing you’ll find is that entrepreneurs don’t think things through very well,” Bastian says. “That was us.”
The couple took a big chance when they started selling their product at Minnesota Vikings home games. The commitment required a financial outlay of $10,000, but the effort got their product in more regional grocery stores.
As their business grew, Bastian learned about branding and the messaging conveyed through advertising. She noticed the ready-made popcorn on the grocery store shelves was male-dominated.
“I wanted equal representation for women,” she says. Thus, the name Angie’s.
Bastian leveraged that initial impression into a powerful message as the company grew from $78,000 in revenue in 2004 to $54 million in 2011. That’s when Bastian entered into a partnership with a private equity firm to enhance their distribution and marketing channels.
“We learned that food and the messaging around it can be empowering, especially for women,” she says. “We wanted to celebrate food and women in the same moment.”
The company built national campaigns, such as “Crush It,” which portrayed women who overcame personal challenges to “crush it” in their everyday lives.
The Bastians also shared that message with their employees and strived to build a family-like atmosphere within their company.
“We encouraged our employees to bring the best version of themselves to work every day,” she says.
In 2017, the Bastians sold the company to spend more time with their children and focus on charitable efforts. Each of their employees received an equity check.
“It was the most enjoyable day in the business,” she says. “Nothing is better than building a successful business and sharing that success with your employees.”
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