Caron Proschan (MBA 2007) is founder and CEO of Simply Gum, maker of natural chewing gum and breath mints. In this interview she talks about the market opportunities for natural, eco-friendly candy products.
“I started my company because I've always been into natural products. I'm a gum chewer, and yet I wasn't able to find an all-natural gum out there. Our goal with Simply Gum is to create products that are healthier and better for both your body, as well as the environment.
“Gum, for example, contributes to actually millions of pounds of plastic waste each year, because plastic is the main ingredient in gum. We use chicle, which is a natural, biodegradable ingredient that's the sap of a tree in Central America. We're very proud of the fact that our gum is better for the environment as a result, and of course, doesn't have all the synthetics that are potentially toxic to one's body.
“The gum category is extremely interesting because it's dominated by two large players, who own 95 percent of the market. There are very few independent companies, very few startups that have entered the space. So that made it daunting for us and challenging, but also incredibly interesting, because we knew there was room to really get in there and disrupt and innovate.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Consumers are thrilled to have finally found an alternative to the artificial gums they've been having up until now. They love the fact that our experience is different. It looks different than regular gum. It tastes different. We're really excited to have seen the positive response.
“Retailers have actually seen their gum sales decline over recent years because consumers are disillusioned [by] all the options that are out there. They're extremely excited to see innovation in the category finally. That's why we've been able to get into a lot of stores very quickly.”
(Published January 2018)
SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS