Featuring Chara Krangle, co-founder of Oat of the Ordinary
Chara Krangle started her journey with a simple idea, and combined with hard work, made it extraordinary. As one of the co-founders of Oat of the Ordinary, alongside Vanessa Nicola, Chara joined the accelerator back in 2020 to connect with other entrepreneurs and set her emerging brand up for success when launching to market. Two years later, Oat of the Ordinary is now listed at over 100 retailer locations, and Vanessa and Chara have turned their business into a community hub for people looking to make their health a priority, starting with breakfast.
We caught up with Chara to learn more about the impact Oat of the Ordinary is making in the consumer-packaged goods industry, social media strategies, and the benefits of having a supportive entrepreneurial community.
VP Labs: What inspired you to start Oat of the Ordinary?
Chara Krangle: I’m a holistic nutritionist and I also work part-time for a podcast based out of LA [Almost 30]. Before COVID, I was frequently travelling and I would always bring an oatmeal protein superfood blend with me so that when I went to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight, I could go up to Starbucks, grab hot water, add it in and then I would have this satiating meal that kept me full and on my toes when I was about to go on a work trip or vacation.
I created this blend as an experiment because I knew that having the time for breakfast was an issue with many of my clients. They were always on the go and had to default to a convenient food item like a muffin or a croissant or something that you could find easily at a café. I'd often hear, “I had this high-sugar protein bar and now I feel like my day is shot because I’ve had so much sugar from the get-go.” Not only that, but their blood sugar would rise and then crash so they would be hungry an hour later. So I decided to experiment with this oatmeal blend and I started sharing it on my social media as a quick and easy travel hack. And then COVID hit and I wasn’t travelling anymore, my clients were dropping off, and everyone had to reconfigure their lives.
My boyfriend and I realized this would be a great business idea. So I called my gf [Vanessa] who had business experience working with start-ups and we started to do some testing and play with the idea. Now Oat of the Ordinary is almost a year and a half old and it really took off. I think we were really solving a problem and it’s great to see because a lot of the other options out there are still very high-sugar and we just really wanted to create a healthy meal that catered towards those who valued their health as much as they valued their time.
VP Labs: What has your experience been like running a business with a co-founder?
CK: When I had my holistic nutritionist business, it was a really rude awakening that I’m meant to be a team player and that’s something that being a part of the team at Almost 30 also showed me. I loved that we could share ideas and bounce energy off each other. That’s when I was like ‘oh wow – this is exactly what I want!’ and I do not want to do this journey of Oat of the Ordinary alone. So when I approached Vanessa – I quickly noticed that one person's strength is the other’s weakness. We have been very complimentary and I think that’s why the business has taken off the way it has. She’s more analytical and I’m more creative and we can support each other in that way. It’s also been an amazing growth opportunity because I’ve learned so much about myself, specifically not to take things personally, and own and step-up in certain roles. There has been so much beautiful growth for both of us, but at the end of the day it’s so beautiful being able to share this journey and experience with someone and not have to do it solo. It’s always nice to bounce ideas off someone, celebrate the wins together, and go through the challenges together and I’m grateful that I have Vanessa to do this with.
VP Labs: What sets your product apart from other products in the breakfast category?
CK: We are one of the only oatmeal companies that add a plant-based protein to their product. There’s one other that is based out on the east coast, but they are also higher in sugar. So where we stand out is that we keep it low sugar, we use high-quality, methodically thought out ingredients and we have 11 grams of plant-based protein per serving and only four to five grams of sugar. The sugar comes from berries that we’ve sourced from Langley in the valley. We blend it up into a powder, giving that extra boost of nutrients and then a pinch of coconut for nutrients and taste.
VP Labs: How did you hear about accelerator and what made you want to join?
CK: When Vanessa and I came across the program we knew this was an opportunity that we wanted to be a part of. We were on the search for mentorship opportunities and Venturepark Labs came up. We then had a call with Kalyan and that literally changed everything. It was definitely a pivotal moment in our journey that really made us feel like an actual business. He loved our product, the name, and made us feel excited about where we were at and where we could potentially go. We loved being in the program, we loved our one-on-one coaching with Serene who was phenomenal and knowledgeable. It was also really cool to learn from other businesses who were going through similar transitions. We went into the program before we launched and then launched our product in the middle of the program – so it was really cool to document that with our coach and go through that process together to help navigate those steps.
VP Labs: As alumni of the accelerator program, what aspect of the program did you find most helpful to your business?
CK: I think being a part of the community and being able to hop on calls with other brands that were in our cohort, and also the ones before and after us. I admire how Venturepark Labs has created that bubble of community where we could call up any brand and say “Hey, we are in this too – can we hop on a call?”. It created this common interest that connected us and allowed us to support each other within this journey, which made a huge difference for us.
And there was also Demo Day! It helped us prepare ourselves to showcase and talk about our product for the very first time. As I said, we were preparing to launch Oat of the Ordinary throughout the program, so it was extremely valuable to share this idea before we launched and hear feedback. We approached it with good intentions and the whole experience was really beneficial.
VP Labs: What have you been most proud of since the launch of Oat of the Ordinary?
CK: Seeing our product in other people’s hands, especially from people that we don’t know! We are about to release an Instagram Reel showing all of the places in the world our oats have been, thanks to customers who take their oats on work trips so they have healthy meals on hand. There was one woman who sent us photos of herself on the Australian coast taking her oats on a road-trip there. We’ve been in Antigua and Cypress and all of these amazing places, so to see this little idea being shared all over the world has been so cool.
I think another rewarding moment for us is a couple months after we launched, this brand-new mom with twins sent us a photo of herself eating her overnight oats and she said that if it wasn’t for Oat of the Ordinary, she probably wouldn’t have had a chance to eat breakfast today. And that was just so deeply touching because here was a busy mom of twins, she doesn’t have time to make breakfast and all she had to do was mix some oat milk with her oatmeal, stick it in the fridge, and she was able to nourish and take care of herself, while being able to watch her babies. That was our mission right there. To give people their lives back and not always have to stress or worry about making healthy intricate meals – you just add a liquid and we’ve taken care of you. We just want to take care of the public.
VP Labs: As a brand that is very active on social media, how important is community to your brand and how would you describe it?
CK: Social Media is something I work really hard on and it has been really fun to nourish my creative side. I am always trying out new things to see what does well online and what sticks. I thought as a consumer – following an oats or even a product account isn’t the most interesting thing in general. So I wanted to make a place that people could come and get a laugh, they can get a health tip, and they can feel connected in their health and wellness journey. That’s the ethos behind our social channels and I still have to watch myself! There’s definitely a pressure to push sales and I can feel that happening sometimes in the type of content we make because we care so much about making a difference. When the sales message is a little bit too heavy, we make a pointed effort to reel it back. We are always asking ourselves, "What can we do that’s more fun?". It goes back to that main mission we have and if our social media was a person – they would embrace their health journey no matter where they are, they’d want some help along the way, and they’d want to laugh and have fun. It's a place for learning, growing, and expanding.
VP Labs: What is your top tip for an entrepreneur that feels stuck with what to do next?
CK: I think connecting with other entrepreneurs has been our biggest asset. Hopping on LinkedIn, joining a business accelerator, and being able to share your journey so you don’t feel alone. There are always ways to get inspired! It is incredible, Vanessa and I are constantly blown away by how supportive this community is. I was in the acting/modelling world before where it was very competitive, but going into this industry, we just could not believe the amount of people who wanted to share tips and resources and advice. I would highly recommend setting up calls with a different business every week, immerse yourself in networking opportunities, and pay it forward by giving advice to other younger businesses.
You also just need to start! You don’t need to wait until its perfect. We’ve spent the last two months doing a little bit of a rebrand, reformulating, changing co-packers, etc., and that’s just something that is naturally going to happen. So don’t worry about coming out perfect, it’s going to change anyway as you grow, and the most important thing is that you just get started.
Oat of the Ordinary
A high-protein, low sugar superfood oatmeal that can be made in minutes or as overnight oats, turns off hunger hormones, meets all macro-nutrient requirements to ensure it is supportive to a balanced diet, and to top it off, tastes great without the use of artificial flavours and refined sugars. Being gluten-free and vegan is a bonus without question!
To learn more or apply to our accelerator program, visit www.ventureparklabs.ca/accelerator.