Simple Mills - Katlin Smith

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Company: Simple Mills, Chicago, IL
Entry Submitted By: Jill Schmidt PR
Company Description: Simple Mills specializes in next-generation natural baking mixes, crackers and frosting products that are free of GMOs, gluten, soy, grain, dairy, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers. In the vanguard of today’s clean food movement, Simple Mills has quickly gained market share by focusing on simple, non-allergenic ingredients that set a benchmark for taste in their categories.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year

Nomination Title: Katlin Smith, CEO

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated entrepreneur since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

Katlin Smith, 28, is at the forefront of a group of young entrepreneurs who are shaping the next generation of natural foods. As the founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a provider of natural baking mixes and crackers, she helped launch a clean food movement dedicated to formulating products without the artificial, nutritionally empty and inflammation-causing ingredients that are common in the space.

Smith’s crusade began in 2013 with the introduction of three natural baking mixes that are free of gluten, grains, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers. She has dramatically increased her product line, market footprint and influence since then, all by adhering to the same strict criteria, selecting the most nutrient-dense ingredients possible, and preaching the importance of avoiding foods like wheat, corn, dairy, soy and refined sugar that irritate the digestive tract. Her achievements in the last 12 months have included:

MARKET DOMINANCE – As of early 2016, according to industry data, Simple Mills ranks #1 among natural baking mix companies in dollars sold per point of distribution and #3 in total sales, surpassed only by two competitors with more SKUs and 20+ years on store shelves. The company also is the fastest-growing brand in the category with a 123% jump in dollar sales in 52 weeks. The next closest competitor grew only 5%, and 5 out of 10 brands saw sales tumble as much as 32% – losing market share as Simple Mills gained.

CRACKER LAUNCH – In March, Simple Mills expanded from the baking aisle to the cracker aisle with the launch of a cracker collection with the same clean ingredient criteria as its baking mixes. Each of the company’s four cracker varieties has no more than 12 ingredients and none of the nutritionally empty potato starch, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, ammonium bicarbonate and/or maltodextrin typically seen in the category.

FROSTING DEVELOPMENT – In late 2015/early 2016, Simple Mills developed a line of frosting that will add a third product category to its portfolio. The new products – launching this month (July) - contain 50% less sugar than other frosting brands, are organic, and again use only simple, whole food, non-GMO ingredients.

4,000-STORE DISTRIBUTION MILESTONE – Store count soared from 700 to nearly 4,000 between July 2015 and July 2016, making Simple Mills among the most widely distributed startups in its category. The company’s products are now sold in Whole Foods, Target, Albertsons/Safeway, Sprouts, Earth Fare, Wegman’s, Raley’s, Mariano’s, Hy-Vee, Vitamin Shoppe, and other natural and conventional groceries. Both the mixes and crackers are also sold online.

SERIES A FUNDING – In February 2016, Smith closed a $3 million Series A funding round led by Charlotte Capital Partners and Hyde Park Angels. She previously received $2 million in seed funding from angels, friends and cash prizes, including the $30,000 New Venture Challenge from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the $35,000 California Dreamin’ Business Competition.

Smith’s vision is to build Simple Mills into the Betty Crocker of natural foods. Her goal is to promote healthier eating through her company’s products as well as to influence other natural foods companies to improve their quality as well.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated entrepreneur (up to 125 words):

Katlin Smith, 28, is founder/CEO of Chicago-based Simple Mills, a natural foods company that is leading a clean food movement in the baking and cracker aisles. She began her career as a Deloitte Consulting management consultant, launched Simple Mills in 2012 because of dissatisfaction with the quality of the natural baking mixes on the market, and secured her first retail store placements in 2013. In less than three years, she has built Simple Mills into a leading brand in the category with eight baking mixes, four cracker varieties and upcoming frosting products that are free of gluten, grains, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers. Smith is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Kenan-Flagler Business School.