From dorm room to Starbucks, Rip Van Wafels is bringing Euro-inspired snack to the lots – TechCrunch


Rip Pruisken waffled in school (we acquired that pun safely out of the way in which for now). He was a pupil within the Ivy League at Brown College, and had targeted on lecturers for a lot of his life. His dad and mom have been physicists, and “I assumed I might research some kind of cookie-cutter path of finding out one thing that I might use post-college,” he defined. “I didn’t actually contemplate entrepreneurship to be a viable choice as a result of I used to be nonetheless in that state of mind.“

It was throughout a research journey to Italy that he had an epiphany. He was inside an Italian bookstore trying via enterprise books when he instantly realized that he had found a brand new ardour. “If you happen to can construct stuff at a revenue, you’ll be able to construct extra stuff, and the way cool is that? That was my aha second,” he stated.

Being an entrepreneur was one factor, however it wasn’t clear what Pruisken ought to promote. He had grown up in Amsterdam, the place he used to eat stroopwafel, a snack composed of two skinny waffle pastries melded along with a syrup heart. Throughout his freshman yr, he had introduced over a big amount of them to highschool, and “all of my buddies devoured them.” Remembering their reputation, “I actually began making them in my dorm in school, and began promoting them on campus” throughout his junior yr.

Promoting ‘Van Wafels’ at Brown College

That was 2010. At this time, Rip Van Wafels could be present in 12,000 Starbucks places, and is a well-liked snack at tech corporations, with some bigger corporations going via tens of 1000’s of items every week.

Their reputation comes from the intersection of a lot of meals developments. The snacks are made with pure substances and are wholesome, with low calorie counts and restricted sugar. Maybe most significantly, they style nice, with completely different flavors which might be designed to strike completely different moods (a chocolate wafel can work as dessert, whereas the strawberry wafel feels extra like breakfast). The corporate presently produces eight flavors.

Whereas the startup meals firm has had great success, none of this was deliberate a decade in the past when Pruisken acquired began. He labored with co-founder and co-CEO Marco De Leon, who was two years behind Pruisken at Brown College and was buddy from Brazil on the lookout for a change of tempo from his Morgan Stanley internship.

They spent two years on campus making an attempt to enhance product advertising and marketing and the standard of the snack, which in hindsight was an essential iteration course of with what would grow to be the corporate’s core client: well-educated and health-conscious tech staff.

The 2 stumbled into their market and stumbled into their title. “It began as Rip Wafel,” Pruisken defined, “and we acquired a stop and desist letter from Van’s,” which makes frozen meals waffles amongst different merchandise. A professor recommended Rip van Winkle, and that impressed the corporate’s present title. Pruisken himself was so enamored with the model he modified his personal title — Abhishek, which he had grown up with in Amsterdam — to Rip.

After a lot work, the 2 founders found tech firm was notably having fun with the snacks. “We realized we discovered this perception that one in all our prospects within the northeast was a tech firm, and we talked to them and so they stated that it was the right deal with that was a substitute for a sweet bar,” he defined. So Pruisken borrowed the sofa of his brother and began going door-to-door promoting these Euro snacks to each tech firm he may discover, ultimately 80 of them in a single summer time.

As he bought wafels, the identical sample would maintain up. An order for one case would grow to be two instances, after which 10 after which 20 of them. Finally, word-of-mouth and distributor partnerships acquired the snack into the mini-kitchens of dozens of tech corporations in San Francisco, in addition to in Peet’s Espresso, Entire Meals, and finally Starbucks.

Pruisken believes the corporate’s success has come from iterating on the snack a lot as a software program engineer may fiddle with JavaScript. “We’ve been reinventing our product each two years,” he stated. “We are attempting to make our product more healthy whereas offering this very indulgent style.” That features experimenting with new substances like tapioca syrup and chickpea powder that may present higher vitamin at lowered sugar ranges.

He sees the way forward for the corporate a lot the identical manner. “You’ll be able to solely reduce the cycle time down by a lot even for those who do every little thing in-house. There are specific parts you’ll want to supply like sure substances or packaging foam,” Pruisken defined. “The way in which to get forward is to plan manner forward. So work on the stuff you wish to launch in two years proper now.” That features a lot of new flavors, in addition to probably including merchandise that contact on the brain-enhancing nootropics area.

In the end, Pruisken desires to redefine the class of packaged meals. “Handy meals have been related to cheaper, decrease qualities and usually unhealthy meals within the US,” he stated. “I feel it might be nice if that was elevated not simply within the meals area however broader.” From a overseas meals in a Brown College dorm room to redefining the merchandise on each grocery retailer shelf, stumbling has paid off for Rip Van, which is taking up the world one wafel at a time.

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