Episode 80 | How Hippeas Landed In 18,000 Stores by Telling the Right Story

 with Hippeas CEO Livio Bisterzo

David Hassell interview David Hassell interview
 AWE Episode graphic Livio
In the CPG space, most entrepreneurs, start with a product. They might stumble upon some product innovation, and see their job as merely to figure out how to sell it. Things like brand and story are usually afterthoughts.

Livio Bisterzo tried something different.

What if, he wondered, instead of starting with a product, you started with a brand proposition? What if you first built a story that your audience believed in? A big, powerful story, one that resonated with consumers, retailers – anyone who came across it? Something more akin to a tribe or a movement? What would happen?

Big things, it turns out.

This week our guest is Livio Bisterzo, the founder and CEO of Green Park Holdings, makers of the super popular Hippeas brand organic chick pea puffs. (If you’ve ever been to a Starbucks, you’ve likely seen their bright yellow, smiling packaging.) In just a year’s time, the brand has launched in 18,000 retailers – and the number is growing virtually every day.

Livio joined us in the Awesome Office / SnackNation HQ for a live interview in front of the team there. In the episode, Livio discusses the process of building the Hippeas brand from the ground up, and why a focus on story has made all the difference. He also explores the lessons he learned from his working class roots, why he believes there are no 9 to 5 entrepreneurs, and the link between brand and culture.

Key Takeaways

  • Livio takes us back to his roots in Milan, describing his working class background and sharing the top lessons he learned from his hardworking parents. 1:57
  • Livio describes the culture shock he experienced moving from Italy to England to attend University, and why he believes high-growth companies don’t happen in Italy 5:04
  • The difference between “sales” and “hustling.” 6:56
  • The traits that helped Livo survive and become a successful entrepreneur after early failures. 7:46
  • Why Livio decided to build a brand story rather than sell a food product. 9:14
  • Why it’s so important to focus on story and aspirational fit. 11:24
  • How Livio and his team built the Hippeas brand. 15:00
  • Why having a competitor or “nemesis” can both help or hurt a startup CPG brand, and why innovation in the natural foods ecosystem is always consumer led. 21:20
  • Why we’re currently experiencing the greatest change in the food supply since the 1950s. 23:20
  • The habits that most contributed to Livio’s success. 25:30
  • Livio’s biggest failures, and what he learned from them. 26:35
  • Why there are no 9-5 entrepreneurs. 28:30
  • How Livio’s changed since the lean years. 32:57
  • The importance of culture in the Hippeas brand. 35:20


Introducing SnackNation Market.  

For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too.

SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep.  With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game.

We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE.

Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling).

That’s SnackNation.com/AO.