- Simple Mills is taking on major competitors currently dominating the baking mixes industry, including Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, and Pillsbury, but the up-and-coming manufacturer aims to distinguish itself by using a different set of ingredients.
- Simple Mills emphasizes its simple ingredients list (never more than 10 ingredients), indicative of the clean label trend sweeping the industry.
- The company also uses almond flour in place of traditional grain-based flour, as more consumers look for grain alternatives in their diet. Simple Mills founder and CEO Katlin Smith told Food Business News that almonds top the list of ingredients rather than "enriched flour bleached" like many competitors.
The story behind Simple Mills is one many food startups dream of — and attain. In 2014, Smith tied for first in the New Venture Challenge, sponsored by University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where she was attending, and she received $30,000 to help fund her business. Later that year, Simple Mills secured a first-round of seed money from Hyde Park Angels, a private investment group that normally funds tech startups.
While tech companies have been targeted more heavily for funding from investment groups, the food industry is becoming more appetizing. Angel group Edible Ventures, for example, invests only in fast-growing food and beverage companies. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or CircleUp have also leveled the playing field for food and beverage startups to attract investors, large and small.
Simple Mills isn't the only company bringing more natural ingredients to the home baking industry. Miss Jones Baking Co. also positions its baking products, including cake and brownie mixes and frosting varieties, to capitalize on the all-natural and organic foods trend consumers are seeking, reports USA TODAY. Immaculate Baking Co., which also makes natural and organic baking mixes, was acquired by General Mills in 2012, demonstrating major manufacturers' recognition of the growing competition these startups pose.