Nancy Goldstein: Bringing Healthy Snacks to the Food Industry

The 10 Inspiring Women Changing The America's Food Industry, 2021

Meet Nancy Goldstein, CEO of the award-winning Gourmet Superfood Nutrition Bar specifically formulated to enhance mental focus and provide sustained energy. BudiBar’s gluten free bars offer certified vegan, certified kosher, no added sugar, nut free, high fiber, and dairy free options for all dietary needs. A natural choice for consumers looking for healthy grab-and-go food options that satisfy very specific dietary needs and healthy living goals. She is passionate about the simple, natural, and limited ingredients that make the bars both delicious and nutritious.

Setting the Stage

Over the course of Nancy’s career, she has held roles as a dental assistant, a singer, a fitness instructor, a lighting designer, a food company CEO, and a mother – the last four concurrently.

Her career as a lighting designer began when a friend knocked on her door at Hobart & Wm Smith Colleges and asked if she could help him backstage with a show he was directing. She fell in love with light and how it could shape an audience’s perceptions.  Four years later, with everything she knew about theatrical lighting self-taught and a slim portfolio, she applied to Boston University’s School of Theatre Arts professional training program.  On interview day, as she waited in the Green Room for her turn, she was in awe of the competition surrounding her, all students who had four years of undergraduate training under their belts and who had brought multiple portfolios with slide carousels (remember those??).  Just being accepted to the program was one of the greatest achievements of her career, and it certainly changed her life.

As you might imagine, she worked a lot of long days and late nights.  She and her colleagues ate a lot of very unhealthy food.  That’s why she was thrilled, as a fitness enthusiast, to find BudiBar. Always running from project to project, with little time to eat in between, finding fast healthy options was nearly impossible.  It was love at first bite when Nancy discovered BudiBar at a charity event, and she soon became a subscription customer.  There was a BudiBar in her briefcase every day – until the original founder stopped producing them.  Long story short, she made it her mission to rescue BudiBar for herself, for everyone else who loved them, and for future fans.   

By the time Nancy bought the brand, the bars had been out of production and off store shelves for nearly 6 months. She started making phone calls to former retailers and was delighted by the overwhelming response to BudiBar’s return. Within four months, the bars were back on the shelves in Whole Foods North Atlantic.

Nancy will tell you that her greatest achievement of all is raising two amazing daughters. Although as different as night and day, both are incredibly talented, loving, smart, and fearless. She couldn’t be prouder of them.

Roadblocks Along the Way

BudiBar quickly outgrew its inherited co-packer. After moving production to a new facility, the new partnership soured quickly and, within months, Nancy was looking for a new co-packer again.  She learned a lot about BudiBar’s production process and the importance of improving it by partnering, finally, with the right co-packer.

Growth has been particularly difficult since last March, when in-store tastings were halted due to the pandemic. Now, shoppers are making “surgical strikes” into food stores and are not so much browsing for new things to try.  This has shown how critical BudiBar’s brand ambassadorship program has been to the company’s success and how important it will be when we come out on the other side of COVID-19.

The financial constraints of bootstrapping a company, with the help of a few friends who believed in her vision, has taught her to take advantage of every low-cost or free opportunity to introduce BudiBar to new audiences.

Redirecting Lifestyles Towards a Healthier Path

Nancy understands that the consumer’s approach to food has changed drastically since she was a child.  Sugary treats were used as incentives for children to do anything from eating their canned spinach (yuck) to brushing their teeth (really)!  Now, people know they can have food fast, cheap, or good – but can only pick two.  BudiBar is a contributor to the fast and good category!

Luckily, there is a terrific food innovation and entrepreneurship hub in Boston, Branchfood, which was started by a powerhouse innovator in her own right, Lauren Abda. The organization offer invaluable programming for early stage and growth companies in the food and beverage sector. She also finds the New Hope Network and Food + Tech Connect newsletters very useful for an overview of current events in the industry as well as white papers and videos that delve deeper into specific topics.

The BudiBar brand was born from the founder’s dedication to an innovative solution that would redirect his own lifestyle toward a healthier path. Nancy is committed to thinking out of the box and is always open to pioneering ideas from within BudiBar headquarters, as well as from the brand’s production and distribution partners. 

Work-life integration as a CEO

Nancy noted that this may sound cliché but, at first, her major role and responsibility was Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.  She did it all.  Through the years, she has been able to flesh out the team to include people she can rely upon to handle day-to-day financial, marketing, sales, and logistics tasks.  This frees up her time to focus on problem solving, production innovation, and long-range planning. She’s learned to balance when to work through the night and when to put work aside in favor of friends and family time.

Roadmap for the Future

BudiBar offers superior quality in comparison to others nutrition bars on the market. Her vision for the company includes expanding e-commerce channels and achieving a national presence for BudiBar in brick-and-mortar stores, from small independents to super-chains that see the opportunity for growth in the natural foods sector. Goals for the next few years include increasing sales volume in all channels of distribution and the development of new flavors to supplement the five varieties now available. As brand awareness and profitability increase, the company will become more attractive for acquisition. The roadmap for the future may be long and winding, especially during pandemic times and subsequent economic recovery.  Nancy trusts her instincts and believes in sweating the small stuff, while keeping an eye on the distant horizon.

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