For Aimee Yang, the founder of a fast-growing food technology startup dubbed “the Beyond Meat of carbs,” a better world begins with a better bagel.
Yang’s take on the New York City staple boasts significantly fewer carbohydrates and more protein, formulated with modified wheat starch, wheat protein isolates, potato starch, prebiotic inulin fiber, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, sea salt and enzymes.
She launched her business, BetterBrand, just over a year ago on the “grain-changing” notion that eating dense, starchy foods can have a positive impact on physical and mental health, she says.
“I’ve struggled with diet my entire life, constantly oscillating between feeling either guilty or deprived,” says Yang, a former litigation consultant and certified public accountant. “I used to dream of a world where I could eat what I wanted without having to worry about weight gain or negative health consequences. BetterBrand is now making that world a reality.”
Foods rich in refined carbohydrates, often linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, represent a $10 trillion market, “and yet this was a completely untapped space,” Yang says, noting the recent explosion of innovation and investment in the meat alternatives category. Early last year, she raised $1 million to support research and development efforts. Less than six months later, The Better Bagel debuted on the brand’s website for direct-to-consumer sales.
“We had no idea how long this process would be, and we got it right immediately,” Yang says. “People have asked us what are the chances of that happening, and I want to say it’s one in a million.”
Within three months, BetterBrand hit $1 million in revenue, driven largely by organic growth, Yang says. The startup raised an additional $2.5 million last October to prepare for large-scale retail distribution. High-profile investors betting on BetterBrand include Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six fund, actor Patrick Schwarzenegger and Sean Thomas, grandson of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas.
The funding also has helped Yang expand her team. Industry veteran Steve Polonowski recently joined as president and chief operating officer. Matthew McDonald, previously executive baker for Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and director of culinary innovation at Aryzta, oversees product development.
The Better Bagel has the net carbohydrate equivalent of two banana slices, the protein content of four eggs and the sugar content of one stalk of celery, according to the company. In February, the brand added an everything bagel, topped with organic sesame and poppy seeds, garlic and onion.
Yang says the company may easily expand into other grain-based foods, having tackled “the most carb-heavy product.”
“We believe unnecessary limits are meant to be broken,” Yang says.