Mika Manninen and Helena Lumme founded Palm Beach Gardens-based Simpli, a company that produces and imports oat shakes and oatmeal, and they have seen quick success. Simpli has capitalized on a growing market of organic customers by offering dairy-free natural products.
Originally from Finland, Manninen and Lumme have served as consultants for Fortune 50 companies bringing products from the United Kingdom to the United States and vice versa. “We really specialize in fast-moving consumer goods, which is anything you find in a grocery store," Manninen said. "At the same time we wanted to find a product of our own to grow from the ground up."
After moving to the United States, Lumme found it hard to get food that was all natural and that wasn't genetically modified. She would go back to Finland and return with suitcases of food, because she thought it tasted better and it was healthier. One of those items was a beverage made with oats. When they learned that the Oat Shake was nondairy, no soy, perfect for people with food allergies or who want low gluten, they thought, this is it, Americans will love this."
They launched their product in March 2011 at the Anaheim Natural Food Expo. The first day they exhibited they got a distribution deal, and two weeks later signed the deal in Chicago and went national. After United Natural Foods also picked it up Simpli had its product in the stores of the two largest natural food distributors.
The company has 13 employees with the two founders and 11 salesmen that work in Los Angeles, Texas, Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. In November when Simpli won the Benet award for Best Smoothie of 2011. Their line is in about 500 to 550 stores currently; and plans are to add 500 to 600 this year.
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