founder

Founder Profile: The Man Who Wants To Make The Vegan Lifestyle Mainstream

Summary

Being a vegan isn’t easy but it can have profoundly positive effects both on the individual and the environment. Billion Vegans wants to make it easier to be a vegan by providing an e-commerce platform focused on selling verified vegan products.  

We have already rated this a Deal To Watch after having a terrific discussion with the founder Alon Hochberg, who has founded 5 companies over the years with two acquisitions. His story is fascinating and we think further bolsters our convictions around the upside potential of an investment in this company.

 

Check out our discussion below…

Chris Lustrino

How did you decide to found Billion Vegans?

Alon Hochberg

I have 6 kids, 2 of which are dogs. Less than 2 years ago I accidentally saw a short video about the dog-eating festival in China, which made me vegan in about 5 minutes. I’ve spent many months replacing all my food habits, clothes, cosmetics and dog supplies, reading the fine prints on every product, and contacting the vendors for more info.

Then, I bought a pair of vegan shoes on Amazon and when I got them, I found out that the glue was made of pigs’ bones. That day I decided to start Billion Vegans.

Chris Lustrino

Can you define Billion Vegans as a business?

Alon Hochberg

It’s a community marketplace, practically an online store that allow vegans in the US to purchase (almost) everything in one place. The uniqueness is that all products are vegan and went through a thorough vegan certification process.

Chris Lustrino

Is there a key demographic that tends towards veganism?

Alon Hochberg

We are witnessing rapid growth mainly amongst the millennials and the gen-Zer’s. There is no clear explanation to it. Another segment is the 40 – 50 year old that has become more aware of health and environmental issues.

Chris Lustrino

How are you managing to onboard so many vegan brands onto your platform?

Alon Hochberg

Most sellers are interested in expanding their channels but most will bother only if the platform has enough traffic. However, most of our sellers are vegan themselves and were very happy to come on board and support us.

Chris Lustrino

Since many vegan brands are more locally focused does this create any challenges on the procurement end of the business?

Alon Hochberg

Most of the products are manufactured in the US, some others in Europe. At this point, i n which we don’t perform lab tests or visit the facilities (we plan to do so in the future), we have to trust the sellers’ legally-binding commitment about their ingredients and processes.

Chris Lustrino

You talk about creating a white label version of Billion Vegans. Can you talk to what this looks like?

Alon Hochberg

Once our brand will be well-known, representing our values, we hope to be the vegan seal-of-approval and launch product lines that will be carefully selected and vetted.

Chris Lustrino

What early product market fit signals can you speak to?

Alon Hochberg

Beyond the numerous private messages that we get, thanking us for our offering, and beyond the high engagement of our social media, the KPI’s we’ve reached, in a very short period of time, indicating an outstanding product-market fit.

The retention rate is 17% which is very high considering we are selling for only a few months and most customers haven’t had the chance to make another purchase. However, some of our earlier customers made 2,3,4 or even 5 purchases already.

Chris Lustrino

Are there any other competitors at all going after the same space?

Alon Hochberg

There are many vegan online stores but very few offer a wide range of products in all categories. Currently there are VeganEssentials and of-course Amazon.

Chris Lustrino

Have you received customer feedback and if so what are you hearing?

Alon Hochberg

We are receiving a lot of customer feedbacks, most are very enthusiastic and supportive. The pain is concrete and the need is totally underserved. However, we are getting some bad feedbacks about some products and about some of the sellers’ customer service.

Chris Lustrino

With so many subscription boxes focused on specific niches , why create a general e-commerce platform, rather than a subscription business?

Alon Hochberg

Subscription boxes are a good and growing business but is still a small niche within vegan online shopping. Most people would still like to buy almost everything that support their vegan lifestyle in one place.

Chris Lustrino

Can you speak to any comparable niche e-commerce platforms that have had large acquisitions in recent years?

Alon Hochberg

There are many. Here is a link to a report that we use.

Chris Lustrino

What is the current makeup of the team and how will you expand the reach of it?

Alon Hochberg

Currently I’m handling the marketing and funding, Amir is responsible for the product and Elinor is responsible for operations (sellers, sales and customer service). Our office in LA handles the social media and community outreach. Over time, we’ll move the center of gravity to LA and make all future hires there.

Chris Lustrino

Why complete an equity crowdfunding round and how will you utilize the capital?

Alon Hochberg

Equity crowdfunding is our dream coming true. Billion Vegans was born out of the vegan community, serves it and is driven by it. We strongly believe that the vegan community should own a portion of Billion Vegans, be a part of its journey and share its success. We’ve contemplated alternatives to allocate shares to our customers but it wasn’t possible because of regulations. We came across the new regulations and immediately acted upon it.

The capital will be used mostly to scale up our marketing budget and subsequently our sales, reaching the required amount that will enable us to do a sizable A-round towards the end of next year.

Investing in Billion Vegans this early on with a strong founding team and signs that customers like what they are building presents an attractive entrant point for investors.

Their focus on engaging the vegan community and enabling their customers to be a part of making veganism more accessible to everyone speaks to a founding team that just gets it. Alon is an exceptional individual and after speaking with him and hearing his passion for the business, he is the exact kind of founder we like to back.

Be sure to invest HERE.  

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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