Episode 67
August 17, 2021

Secret Sauce

with Andrew Suzuka, Founder and CEO of Otamot

About this episode

Andrew Suzuka is the Founder and CEO of Otamot. Based in Brooklyn and sold in over 2000 stores including Whole Foods, Sprout's, and Wegmans, Otamot is a delicious veggie-filled tomato sauce brand made with over nine organic vegetables and healthy oil. In this episode, Andrew shares with us his entrepreneurial journey from growing up in Westchester, New York, with four sisters and dreams of becoming a stockbroker, to attending NYU where he launched a marketing and promotions company called Key Factors, where he made a 10,000 dollar mistake, to climbing the ladder at NOISE, which led to becoming an expert CFO for agencies including Bayard Advertising. He talks with us about his aha moment in creating Otamot, how they launched nationally in Whole Foods within their first six months of launching, and why attending trade shows as an early-stage food company has played an important role in their success as a brand.

This episode is sponsored by

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How his childhood was full of the love of food and exposure to business and learning how to make money, even from an early age
  • What hard lessons he learned from mistakes in business while in college and how what he calls his first real business really grew and provided a lot of opportunity with nationwide clients
  • What it was like to have a successful experience in an acqui-hire with NOISE that was an amazing partnership for Andrew and what he did next with recruiting solutions
  • What led him into financial management and consulting, to part time CFO roles, and lead to a full time CFO position
  • How the idea for Otamot came to him, what he did differently with this idea compared to other ideas he had over the years, and why he chose the name Otamot
  • Why they were able to hit the ground running after launching Otamot, how he got in front of more buyers, and his advice on marketing and pricing strategy
  • How he balances his full time, 9-5 job, with his 5-9 job growing Otamot and what advice he has for others who have a great idea and want to take it somewhere  

To Find Out More:

otamotfoods.com

Quotes:

“To grow your business and really grow your experience, you're going to have to work with more and more people.”

“If you want people to be the extension of you, then you've got to give it all for them every single day.”

“I call it being comfortable being uncomfortable. Because if you're going to be squeamish and if you can't kind of thrive off of being in these different and challenging situations and really get excited about, hey, how do I jump over this thing? Then being an entrepreneur or doing something that hasn't been done before is not for you. And that's OK.”

“A little light bulb went off and I said, I love making food, I am a parent that just wishes I didn't have to spend three hours to make this, but I feel really good about her eating it. But is there a life hack here?”

“If we're going to flip the label around, what if we just flip the name around too? And it really plays well into it and really explains the origin of the sauce, which is we really want to turn things around.”

“We prepped enough that well before launch I hired a PR company. Well before launch we did our branding and sell sheets, so we were able to hit the ground running and look like a million bucks before we made any money, before we had one sale.”

“When you're building a business, you also want to look at what will your COGS be later on based on certain velocity assumptions. And you should be pricing yourself based on those future velocity assumptions, in my opinion.”

“If you want to go national, you have to be ready for it. And that just doesn't mean, hey, have a few bucks in the bank. That means be ready from a production standpoint, be ready to service them, be ready to understand how freights work, how UniFi works…”

“If I didn't have great teams on both sides of the table, I could not do this.”

“You just have to be someone that's been used to juggling life and you have to enjoy being that clown.”


Read the transcript

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