Episode 136
December 13, 2022

Finding the Fun

Hailey Swartz, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Actual Veggies

About this episode

Sharing their story today is Hailey Swartz, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Actual Veggies. Hailey chatted about her childhood growing up in California, running cross country and biking in the mountains, to working on the advertising team for her school newspaper at the University of Michigan, to working at a startup where she realized that work can actually be fun. She talks about how she met her Co-Founder in 2020, why they decided to launch Actual Veggies on QVC of all places, and how she fundraised a $4M seed round during Covid over Zoom.

This episode is sponsored by

Exclusive Deals from Our Sponsors:

  • Give the gift of the world’s most beautiful spice rack and get 15% off by using the promo code STAIRWAY15 at www.evermill.com
  • Get 20% off luxury fitness equipment that you won’t want to hide in your closet by using the promo code STAIRWAY20 at www.equiptmovement.com

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • (1:30) More about Actual Veggies, the new food brand reinventing veggie burgers to make them healthy and delicious with naturally colorful patties that taste just like their primary vegetables and have no oils, fillers, or preservatives. Now available in over 2,000 retail stores nationwide.
  • (4:00) What it was like growing up in Agoura Hills, California, and spending a lot of time being active with cross country, biking, or going to the beach
  • (6:45) Why she believes she never thought she was entrepreneurial but was always working and planned to go the corporate route
  • (7:50) Some of her first jobs after graduating from the University of Michigan, like working at AOL to her first startup, and what she learned 
  • (12:00) Why she thought it was impossible for work to be fun until she got the entrepreneur itch
  • (15:10) How she got the entrepreneurial itch, knowing that she wanted to be her own boss, and meeting her Co-Founder who had the idea for Actual Veggies
  • (17:30) How they validated that they’d be good Co-Founders together, and how to find the complementary skill sets
  • (25:00) What makes their veggie burgers different from the others, and how they got to market and validated the idea
  • (28:20) How they launched on QVC, and why it ended up being a great option for them
  • (33:00) The events that food brands should be invested in going to for opportunities
  • (38:50) The grand vision for the brand, and the best pieces of advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs

To Find Out More:



“I saw that everyone was having a lot of fun and it really opened my eyes to this idea that work could be fun.”

“I think I was necessarily not in the right role for me and I didn't know how to get to that right role.”

“I knew that I wanted to be my own boss.”

“I liked hearing people who got to do so many different things all day long because I loved wearing multiple hats.”

“They all taste like their primary ingredients. So what we're doing is making a clean, really good-tasting veggie burger.”

“Our retail strategy is mostly our focus.”

“Make friends with other founders and expand your network.”

“Don’t ask a million people, have one or two advisors and trust yourself.”

“You’re never going to get everything right, you just have to execute the plan you put in place.”

“Trying something new and just doing something is really important. I see people get scared of how they start and I think just actually putting one foot forward really helps.”

Read the transcript

More Episodes

Episode 195

Brooklyn, Brews, and Botanical Breakthroughs

with Hudson Davis-Ross, Co-Founder and CEO of Plant People
Episode 194

Widening the Wealth Circle for Women

with Allegra Moet Brantley, Founder and CEO of Factora
Episode 193

Turnarounds, Transformations, and Taking Charge

with Mary van Praag, Global CEO at Milani Cosmetics