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This 29 year old Woman is disrupting the $8 Billion health bar market.

When Lezlie Karls set out to transform the $8 billion dollar health bars market she knew she wanted to be disruptive and that's exactly what she did - Disrupt.

We sat down with Lezlie just a few months after launching just as things were really starting to erupt. It’s the perfect example of what happens when a good product, good people, and overheated demand collide.

Lezlie Karls, Co-founder, and CEO started MID-DAY SQUARES with her husband Nick Saltarelli and brother Jake Karls. After being rejected by every major grocery store buyer, she persuaded her husband  to leave his tech startup and help her sell online direct to consumers. Together, they wanted to bring delicious tasting, clean, high protein afternoon snacks to people on the daily life grind.

With that one focus, they began selling, one by one, customer by customer, and just like that the brand began growing.

I spent time talking with Lezlie about entrepreneurship, passion, drive, and life. I found our conversation to be very enjoyable. She's filled with passion and insightful. I hope you find it just as enjoyable as I did.

from left to right: Jake Karls, Lezlie Karls, & Nick Saltarelli
photo credit: Sylvain

When Lezlie Karls set out to transform the $8 billion dollar health bars market she knew she wanted to be disruptive and that's exactly what she did - Disrupt.

We sat down with Lezlie just a few months after launching just as things were really starting to erupt. It’s the perfect example of what happens when a good product, good people, and overheated demand collide.

Lezlie Karls, Co-founder, and CEO started MID-DAY SQUARES with her husband Nick Saltarelli and brother Jake Karls. After being rejected by every major grocery store buyer, she persuaded her husband  to leave his tech startup and help her sell online direct to consumers. Together, they wanted to bring delicious tasting, clean, high protein afternoon snacks to people on the daily life grind.

With that one focus, they began selling, one by one, customer by customer, and just like that the brand began growing.

I spent time talking with Lezlie about entrepreneurship, passion, drive, and life. I found our conversation to be very enjoyable. She's filled with passion and insightful. I hope you find it just as enjoyable as I did.

Why even get into this ultra competitive food space?

“I was working in fashion, trying to make it in NY, being treated like crap. Ultimately I ended up feeling miserable and decided this was not what I wanted to spend my days doing. I went back to Montreal, and went through what I call  post failure depression. During this time I magically started to get re-inspired. During my time in NY, I was making myself snacks to get through the long days. After seeing people's reactions and what was on the market I really felt like we had a shot regardless of how saturated the space was.

She explained that Nick and her were not yet married at the time and always had an awesome working relationship.

“He’s the black to my white. He’s analytical, practical, and very patient in his approach. I’m pretty much all heart , similar to a manic painter. He calls me a bull. We’re opposites.”

“The one thing to come out of my first failure in the fashion business, was that Nick and I knew we worked really well together. Your partner is everything, and trust is everything.”

“At this point, we were already living together, our values were in sync, we wanted the same things and so we just went for it.”

Lezlie told us that grocery buyers kept telling her “the market doesn’t  have room for this type of product right now.”

“This is the exact moment I convinced Nick to start getting on board. He comes from the digital world, and so we decided that we would let the people decide if the market wanted this. His exact words were “F#$% that we know it tastes better than anything out there. Lets get it to people.” ”

“Over the course of 4 months, we perfected the recipe, did a self taught crash course on manufacturing, designed packaging, built an e-com site and got our organic certificates. It was pure craziness.”

“My brother Jake is a wizard on instragram so we hit instagram and started finding people that were on that daily life grind and offered them to try our protein squares. Bam! Just like that we started getting orders. Once people would try it, it just naturally sold.”

What has been some of the toughest challenges of the last 4 months?

“Honestly, the whole thing. The process of commercializing a product is a lot harder than people think. In order to hit a price that made sense for our fans to be able to purchase our squares, we needed to get our ingredients directly 

from farms in south america. It wasn’t easy but it was very rewarding. ” “Also, starting a business with your husband and brother has its challenges Lots of communication is needed. Two bedrooms help! But, it's the most rewarding feeling to do it all together.”

What is most disruptive about what your doing?

“Online taste testing! From many of our advisors/mentors in the food space, it was clear that the most important thing for a food startup to do early on is to get potential consumers to try your product.”

“Unfortunately all the major grocery stores didn’t return our calls early on, so we decided that we would create an online version of the “grocery store food demo/tasting.”

“Customers can come to our site and get a free sample of Mid-Day Squares sent to them. This one single program has led to our current growth. Once they try it, they become a fan.”

Why the name Mid-Day Squares?

“It was actually simple, when I was making the squares for myself it was for a very specific reason. Each day I would have these cravings after lunch that made me want to eat something sweet and chocolaty. I was fed up of eating crap filled with sugar, and so I made these snacks for my afternoon cravings.”

“I'd be running around New York city and I simply needed something that would satisfy my cravings and get me through the rest of the day.”

“Naturally when we were naming the company, I wanted it to be exactly what it was my Mid-Day Squares.”

Any plan to sell in grocery stores?

“Having the grocery store chains not return our phone calls early on has been a blessing in disguise. It forced us to build a relationship with our customers directly, and many have gone into their favorite retailers asking for our product. Naturally we’ve been getting on the buyers radar and have since launched in many retail locations.”

“We’ve been in discussion with a few big retailers and plan on rolling out the brand nationally by the end of 2018. We just need time to get our manufacturing optimized so we can meet the retailers demands.”

Before we go, what advice would you give to other food entrepreneurs?

“I still have a ton to learn. So never stop learning.”

“And last. The sooner you realise that everyone is trying to figure it out as they go, the better off you will be.”