Name: Noha Waibsnaider
Company: Waibsnaider founded Brooklyn-based Peeled Snacks in 2005 as a healthier alternative to the sugar-coated and additive-laden dried fruits on the market. Today, organic Peeled Snacks is distributed in the United States and Canada and is available at Starbucks, Whole Foods, Food Emporium, Angelika Film Center, Bikram yoga studios, Nordstrom espresso bars, and Marriott Hotels and Aloft Hotels.
Measure of success: With a staff of only eight employees, Peeled Snacks is selling millions of products in more than 6,000 stores. While Peeled Snacks have been available in a “grab-and-go” snack size, this year the company is rolling out family size packs to grocery stores in the New York area.
Why She’s Fierce: This former Unilever executive realized when most large consumer packaged food companies try to make something healthier, they essentially take their regular products and alter the recipe slightly by fortifying with vitamins or changing the salt content and call it good for you. “The big companies’ strength really lies in processing food and adding chemicals to it, using high fructose corn syrup and all sorts of other ingredients,” said Waibsnaider. “And I thought people really want something that’s closer to real food and the large companies are a long way away from offering that.” This Israel native is expecting her second child and manages to balance a growing family with sourcing fruit from all over the globe, securing funding for her company, and developing strategy for expanding her business.
In Her Own Words:
Daria Meoli: What have been some of the “growing pains” you’ve experienced with your business?
Noha Waibsnaider: There have been many, but I guess the most obvious one, since we’re in the year 2011, is money. Cash was tight before 2008, but now the economy has shifted to such a different place. When I started, I got a small business loan and a small business credit line that we always paid on time. I had nothing to show for myself, they lent me $100,000. Five years later, at the end of 2009, we couldn’t get the credit renewed, which was crazy because we had a track record of paying on time and our sales were good.
DM: How did you address the loss of funds?
NW: We actually took accounts receivable financing, which is a higher interest rate. You’re definitely not getting as good of a deal and it’s much more dependent on your receivables, so the rate goes up and down. But there is one benefit. Because the overdue invoice letters are coming from this other company, people think it’s a collection letter and we get more customers paying, or paying closer to on time, than they used to. With some of our smaller suppliers, like our mango suppliers, we’d been front loading a lot of their costs during the harvest season, which is obviously a huge drain on our cash flow. Now, we’re trying to help them get additional resources through organizations that are lending to developing countries. There are some non-profits doing this as well.
I’ve been spending more time networking for our foreign supplier partners in the United States, and trying to bring resources down to them. We also have been working closer with our other vendors to get better terms. We’re working on payment plans with them and really pushing the momentum on what kind of terms we can get. Before, we always paid within 30 days and now we’re calling them up and asking, “What if we pay in 60 days?” Or, “What if we pay part of it now and part of it in another two weeks?”
DM: What have been some of your challenges as a woman business owner?
NW: I’ve definitely had challenges on the financing front. I’ve probably spoken with hundreds of people about investing in Peeled Snacks over the years, and 99.9 percent of them are men. And it’s not that I’m not looking for women investors. I’m very actively looking for women, but women don’t tend to invest. They don’t tend to have as much money and if they do have money, they tend to be focused more on charities and non-profits.
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com