The delivery of Opopop began as a joke — type of.
Jonas Tempel and Bradley Roulier had made their identify within the leisure enterprise, launching and promoting an internet dance music retailer and co-owning a Denver nightclub. After promoting each, the 2 entrepreneurs started discussing the potential of beginning one other enterprise collectively.
Throughout one dialog, Roulier was consuming popcorn whereas watching sports activities, and remarked that they may “make popcorn cool once more.” Whereas it gave the impression of a humorous remark on the time, the duo started to take it severely. It was then that the thought for Opopop was born.
“They began to take a look at the popcorn class and the dearth of innovation, and noticed the dimensions of the market and all the potential,” stated Opopop President Sarah McDowell.
Opopop noticed a scarcity of innovation in flavors and packaging from the main microwave popcorn manufacturers, which it believed was making the class stagnant. The market is at present dominated by Conagra’s Orville Redenbacher and Campbell Soup’s Pop Secret, together with non-public label choices, in response to Statista.
Opopop launched its first innovation in 2021: Taste Wrapped Popcorn Kernels, which it described as the world’s first pre-flavored popcorn kernels. Every particular person kernel is coated with flavoring, which permits the popcorn to be flavored because it pops, in response to the corporate.
For the few years earlier than the product launched on-line, the Opopop workforce had labored in stealth mode, creating the popcorn to promote to firms for his or her workplace areas. Then, the worldwide pandemic hit.
“We had been creating our Taste Wrapped Kernels as part of that earlier [office spaces] undertaking and we had been getting suggestions that everyone simply beloved the flavors, like ‘You need to simply promote these!’
“We had a really pivotal dialog about how we actually wanted to regulate,” McDowell stated.
Snacking boomed through the pandemic as customers spent way more time at dwelling. This gave Opopop a window to begin as an e-commerce model, promoting microwaveable popcorn direct-to-consumer. Since then, its merchandise have additionally debuted at retailers together with Williams Sonoma shops and Foxtrot Market artisanal grocers.
Opopop’s manufacturing facility is situated 10 miles south of Denver and staffed by about 20 staff. “We additionally do all of the kitting and transport out of right here, in order that takes up fairly a little bit of room,” McDowell stated.
McDowell, who beforehand labored as a communications supervisor at Basic Mills, stated that whereas there’s plans for a bigger facility sooner or later, the corporate is embracing its standing as a startup. Opopop stated it provides a “gourmand” different to the microwave popcorn manufacturers customers are used to seeing on the grocery retailer, pitching itself as a stylish newcomer in a snack class that has not advanced for contemporary customers.
Discovering the suitable flavors
The popcorn model is making an attempt to face out from rivals with distinctive flavors. These embrace varieties like Cinnalicious, which is flavored like cinnamon rolls; Chedapeño, a mixture of cheddar and jalapeño; and Maui Warmth, a candy and spicy pineapple mix. In April, Opopop debuted its Wasabi taste. And final month, the model launched its dill pickle flavored Pickle Monster.
McDowell stated the corporate sees the flavour growth course of as enjoyable and natural, and to not be taken too severely.
“We’ve got a killer butter taste that may go up in opposition to any taste available on the market,” McDowell stated. “So we are able to put new flavors on the market and simply see how individuals react to them.”
Past its flavoring innovation, Opopop has tried so as to add an experiential factor to the act of making ready and consuming popcorn.
This previous January, it launched Peel + Pour cups, single-serve packages that include popcorn kernels with a strong chunk of flavoring inside. The patron empties the bundle of kernels into Opopop’s collapsible silicone popper and locations it into the microwave. When the kernels are finished popping, the patron shakes the popper to coat the kernels with flavoring.
McDowell stated that for the Peel + Pour product, the corporate opted for extra mainstream taste choices, together with Like Buddahh (butter), Salted Caramel, Vanilla and Calmly Salted.
“That method we go away our Salted Umami, Wasabi and Chedapeño and Maui Warmth for the Taste Wrapped Kernels — these are extra gourmand choices,” she stated.
Since its launch final summer season, the corporate stated it has shipped over 50,000 of its Taste Wrapped Kernels and 200,000 of its Pop Cups. Opopop has additionally attracted buyers with its improvements, elevating practically $12 million from backers together with meals veterans like RXBAR founder Peter Rahal to music stars like DJ Tiësto.
There’s one factor that might deter the corporate from turning into a family identify within the vein of Orville Redenbacher’s and Pop Secret: its worth. Every 320-gram bag of Taste Wrapped Kernels, which incorporates 11 servings, is priced at $13.99 to $17.99, a major enhance over less expensive grocery retailer choices.
McDowell stated that the corporate acknowledges its premium costs, however that it’s concentrating on customers who’re prepared to pay extra for high quality.
“Our place is that of a premium popcorn model,” she stated.
One other added value, which Opopop stated is really useful to pop every of its popcorn merchandise, is a specialised Popper bowl, which is out there on its web site for $23.99. Any microwavable popper with a lid is required to ensure the flavour is correctly distributed, in response to the model’s web site.
“[The founders] began to take a look at the popcorn class and the dearth of innovation, and noticed the dimensions of the market and all the potential.”
The demographic of the Opopop client skews youthful — Gen Z and millennials, in addition to households with children, McDowell stated. The snack model’s design and wordplay decisions, created by Opopop’s in-house branding workforce, serve to strengthen this.
A technique the startup is aiming to win over these customers is by making the act of interacting with its product enjoyable. For its Wasabi taste launch, it included chopsticks — what it calls “Popsticks” — inside the bundle.
“I don’t assume many individuals would have ever thought of consuming popcorn with chopsticks but it surely’s really fairly enjoyable,” McDowell stated. “You eat one kernel at a time so your bowl lasts endlessly.”
Shocked by its preliminary success, Opopop has plans for a wider attain. It’s planning a wider retail launch at grocery shops to succeed in new customers, in response to Alec Hopkins, vice chairman of product and insights. The corporate additionally discovered success in workplaces as an employer vacation reward, one thing Opopop expects to proceed this 12 months.
McDowell credit the “material consultants” the startup enlisted — in product growth, manufacturing, engineering and branding — as a key purpose behind its success.
“When you might have the mix of that mind energy, you’re ready to take a look at all sides,” she stated. “Can we make it style good? Will it pop the way in which we wish it to? What sort of supplies go within the bowl? All these issues we needed to reply for ourselves.”