Hu Kitchen is an NYC-based eatery and brand that offers paleo- and vegan-friendly food with a focus on fresh, organic and unprocessed ingredients. In May 2018, the company closed a $10 million round led by Sonoma Brands to commercialize more of its products. CEO Rita Hudetz joined us at our Fail Friday this past June to share her stories of failure and lessons learned.
Rita joined Hu Kitchen as Chief Commercial Officer of Hu Products in 2016 to drive expansion of its retail product line. Since 2016, she has become CEO and has expanded Hu’s products business nationally, launched its e-commerce platform and increased sales by 5x.
Previous to joining Hu Kitchen, Rita worked for PepsiCo’s nutrition business, where she was met with the unrealistic expectation of growth and margins of a healthy food product to look like a soda or chips. She quickly learned the necessity of establishing realistic expectations and goals with stakeholders.
When she went to the startup world, she saw companies facing the same pressure for growth, pushing them to strive for unachievable business cases and profit margins.
Her biggest lesson is to fall in love with the company’s ugly numbers and its most conservative base case – i.e. when an account doesn’t come through or velocities aren’t as high as expected. It’s better to ensure your company is feasible even when it’s your most conservative numbers. In other words, “It’s better to stock out than code out. It’s better to have the demand and pull for your product and miss a few sales and grow a little bit slower, than have that situation where you’ve produced so much and you were so optimistic that your case falls apart on the other side.”