Vital Stats: James Lindsay, 40, founder of Rap Snacks Inc.
Company: Philadelphia-based maker of snack foods
Projected 2003 Sales: $4 million to $5 million
Crunch Time: Lindsay's snack-business savvy spawned from a youthful obsession. "I've always been curious about the snack industry. If there were inconsistencies in the product, I'd call the company to find out why." Working as a salesperson for Warner-Lambert (makers of Certs and Sugar Babies), Lindsay heard word of a layoff and sought new employment . . . for himself. Says Lindsay, "I found [snack food-making] was a multibillion-dollar industry."
"It feels good to make a difference and set an example for the kids."
Tasters' Choice: Rap Snack's popcorn, chips and cheese curls come in 11 flavors, with packaging featuring cartoon renderings of rap artists such as Lil' Romeo, Master P and Nelly; a small bio with album release dates; Web sites; and positive messages. Distributing mostly to independent businesses in the inner city nationwide, Lindsay sold out 800 cases within two hours of his launch. He plans to expand to mass merchandisers by September.
25 Cent: Each bag of Rap Snacks sells for a quarter. "In the inner city, every kid has a quarter, but not every kid has a dollar. It's a cheaper way to develop brand loyalty; I'm able to grow with the customer base."
Chipping In: Each artist's label pays a promotional fee to Rap Snacks. "[Labels] spend money on posters and things like that all the time," says Lindsay. "I told them it would be beneficial to promote their albums on our bags because we're reaching 2 million to 3 million kids [per] week."