‘Stranger Things’ actor Noah Schnapp cofounded TBH over a year ago with an ambitious goal to reinvent the traditional hazelnut spread Nutella with a vegan, less sugar, and more sustainable alternative. Now the company plans to bring its hero product into Whole Foods, while launching a single-serve packet in 2023 with the support from a recent crowdfunding campaign via Republic.
The campaign, which allows TBH fans to invest as little as $50, has amassed nearly $470,000 from more than 500 backers, exceeding its original target by 1,900%. During an exclusive interview, Schnapp revealed how the successful raise is a nod to TBH’s resonance with Gen Z consumers.
“I know for myself and my friends that Gen Z are impulsive buyers,” said the 18-year-old, who just finished his first year of college. “Anything we see on social media could trigger an immediate buy. TBH has a very active TikTok account with viral videos, and we’re using Instagram ads as well,” The crowdfunding also provides a way for Schnapp to engage with his younger fans and educate them about equity investments.
There are different tiers of bonus perks too depending on the amount invested: $100, for example, allows investors to be invited to annual TBH investor call, in addition to having a 10% lifetime product discount; $10,000 offers a larger discount and dinners with Noah across the U.S.
After the campaign closes in less than month, TBH will start R&D on new products, according to CEO Elena Guberman. “We want to give people more nostalgic snacking opportunities,” she said. The future product formulations will be aligned with how TBH was initially invented — refinement at every production stage, and constant improvement of gross margin, which have helped result in a creamy texture similar to Nutella without palm oil, an ingredient that arguably contributes to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation worldwide.
“We work with a manufacturer that roasts a really big batch of hazelnuts, and separate dried products from hazelnut oils. Then we combine them with a little bit of monk fruit to maintain and retain the consistency and the spreadability of Nutella,” Guberman added. “[the single-serve packet] will give us the chance to hand out TBH either at events or participate in more donations at a smaller size.”
The ‘Giving Back’ Ethos
Giving back to the community is at the heart of TBH’s operations, and such ethos also resonates with company’s main investor, Umana Venture Studio, which helped set up a tech-driven platform in 2021 that enables wealth managers to identify philanthropic opportunities for their high-net-worth clients.
Umana’s cofounder and CEO Bá Minuzzi stressed how startup studios are gaining popularity as they’ve become a robust vehicle to incubate ideas, recruit founders, and launch a minimum viable product that fits the current market, although they oftentimes run as a money-making machine.
“Our great experience of launching TBH is the best case scenario we could have for a venture studio,” said Minuzzi. “Working with Noah from the beginning and towards the same direction totally changed the game. I think we have a better chance of succeeding because we started with a ‘why’: to make snacking more delicious and conscious; better for you and better for the planet. The revenue will come organically.”
This approach of creating brands also helps TBH easily stand out among a slew of emerging celebrity-backed consumer products with a more genuine proposition. “We’re definitely focused on building a sustainable company, but something we would love to do in the future is to find a way to re-engage with our younger audience, motivating them whether from a company building or entrepreneurial standpoint,” Guberman stressed, adding how TBH’s current process of gaining B Corp certification is part of its long-term plans to create a better business.
Between juggling school work, running a snacking company while gearing up for the production of ‘Stranger Things’ season 5, Schnapp admits his schedule can be quite hectic. “That’s what makes life so exciting,” he said, “and I definitely like to thrive off being busy.”
When asked to offer a sneak peek of Netflix