This Granola Startup Hopes to Scare Up Sales With Black Granola for the Holidays The entrepreneur behind Gr8nola found a fun way to also build up her brand.

By Stephen J. Bronner

Courtesy of gr8nola

About two months before Halloween, Erica Liu Williams, founder of granola company Gr8nola, had an idea: black granola made with activated charcoal. She said she thought that the introduction of black granola would scare up seasonal sales not only for Halloween, but for Christmas -- replacing a lump of coal in a stocking with something tastier.

Liu Williams worried, however, that some people would just be scared of trying her Charcoal Chia flavor. That didn't happen.

"I rolled this out as something different than the traditional pumpkin spice flavor you see all the time," she said. "The response is beyond what I expected, and people are obsessed with how good it tastes."

Related: Meet the Entrepreneur Behind the Healthy, Clean Snack Loved by Googlers

Better yet, Liu Williams found another way to market the product that has proven popular on social media: as a healthy version of Oreos or cookies and cream. (It also ties in well with the current trends around activated charcoal and black foods.)

Since becoming available on Oct. 23, sales of the flavor have been strong, and the item is already eligible for Amazon Prime shipping (new products typically don't qualify). Charcoal Chia is also the most viewed product on Gr8nola's website. Liu Williams predicts that after the next batch goes out, the item will be profitable.

But there are other benefits to her business besides the financial lift, Liu Williams said.

"There are things that build your brand and get your name out there," she said. "Food brands have to innovate. Even if it breaks even, it creates something that's really exciting for my community and a lever I can use again every year. It can snowball into something bigger."

Stephen J. Bronner

Entrepreneur Staff

News Director

Stephen J. Bronner writes mostly about packaged foods. His weekly column is The Digest. He is very much on top of his email.

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