How Daniel Lubetzky grew his snacks brand from a basement to a $5 billion business, and why kindness is key to a new Aussie campaign

Kind Snacks founder Daniel Lubetzky

Kind Snacks founder Daniel Lubetzky. Source: supplied.

US snack brand Kind Snacks is cementing its Australian launch with an unusual marketing campaign, selecting a group of the kindest Aussies around to act as brand ambassadors.

Rather than enlisting celebs and social media stars as influencers, Kind has instead chosen people such as Yvonne Hong, founder of volunteer organisation Pets of the Homeless, and Father Bob Maguire, a former parish priest who has spent 39 years working to provide meals and education to kids in disadvantaged communities.

The campaign is designed to be reflective of Kind’s not-only-for-profit ethos, and to highlight how businesses can play a role in improving things for everyone.

Four people have been selected for the launch, but ultimately, the brand is looking for 500 community-minded Aussies to take part.

Founded in 2004 by Mexican-American serial entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky, Kind tapped into a need for healthy and nutritional snacking options, that are not full of sugar or other “empty calories”, as Lubetzky calls them.

Lubetzky launched the business partly to solve a problem he was encountering when he was travelling around the world with his other business PeaceWorks.

Often skipping meals and eating at his desk, he was frustrated at the snack options available.

“I wanted something good to eat that I could feel good about,” he tells SmartCompany.

He launched this business — on top of the other ventures he was working on at the time — out of the basement of an apartment building in New York City, where he was renting a studio apartment.

At that time, he had about US$10,000 ($12,900) in his pocket. Now, he estimates the business is worth about US$5 billion ($6.45 billion).

That’s primarily down to the growth the brand has seen in the US, but the business also has operations in the UK and Mexico, and there’s “enormous global potential” in other markets, too, Lubetzky says.

“We doubled our sales every year for a decade, while doing so cashflow positively and profitably.”

But, this business isn’t only about making money, or even about making snack bars.

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetzky strives to use every business he works on to inspire empathy and kindness in others, he explains.

With Kind, that’s about promoting nutritional education, but also staff volunteering programs in local communities, and using its packaging to promote particular causes.

The founder also heads up the Lubetzky Family Foundation, web-based education tool Empatico, family office Equilibria, and OneVoice, an initiative supporting grassroots projects that are helping resolve the Israili-Palestinian conflict.

The common thread is “to try to build bridges between people to try to prevent atrocities from happening”, Lubetzky explains.

So, when it came to launching Kind’s snack bars into Australia, it made sense to run a campaign that could “increase the goodness that we’re doing in the world”, he adds.

The idea is to spotlight and centre people making positive change, and by offering them support and resources to do more, “rather than give money to another social media influencer”.

For Lubetzky, social change and doing business go hand in hand. Everyone — including those in the private sector — should be looking for mechanisms to help tackle the challenges facing the world, whether that’s the climate crisis, polarisation or food scarcity.

Businesses have power, and responsibility, here, he suggests. But that doesn’t necessitate grand gestures or gimmicks.

If a business is being respectful and responsible, generating jobs, and providing a product that people really need, often that can be enough.

“But, if you’re able to find purpose in what you’re doing and to elevate your mission to not just make money — and it’s authentic — then I do think those companies will be better positioned than those that are thinking about it more narrowly.”

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