19 Jul 2018 | 03.17 pm
Pow-Cow Yoghurt Taps High Protein Snack Market
Dietitian Niall Moloney launched his yoghurt brand in 2016
19 Jul 2018 | 03.17 pm
Frozen yoghurt and high-protein snacks are separately enjoying bumper consumer demand. So Niall Moloney joined the dots and launched Pow-Cow, which makes tubs of protein-rich, Greek-style frozen yoghurt in coconut, chocolate, and passionfruit and mango flavours.
A big fan of ice-cream, Moloney (28), a registered dietitian, set out to develop a tasty, high-protein ice-cream variation with superior nutritional value. “I bought an ice-cream machine in Lidl and experimented with 200 recipes,” Moloney explains. “When I came up with the right recipe, everybody loved the samples of high protein frozen yogurt, and so Pow-Cow was born.”
The Local Enterprise Office pointed Moloney to a farmer and sometime ice-cream producer who offered the use of his factory. “I wanted to get a Minimum Viable Product to market and see if it appealed to consumers. Pow-Cow was set up on a shoestring budget and I had to make every euro count. We launched the product to market in 15 SuperValu stores in the summer of 2016.”
Pow-Cow has so far raised €150,000 in funding. Enterprise Ireland is in for €50,000, while Cork VC fund SOSV is also backing the startup. “My biggest early challenge was finding a reliable distributor who could deliver our product nationally,” says Moloney. He secured fridge space for Pow-Cow in SuperValu stores through the Food Academy programme.
He also secured a listing in circa 50 Lidl stores nationwide through the retailer’s Kick Start initiative. “SuperValu and Lidl offer opportunities for small Irish brands to get on shelf. Both are great programmes and provide insight into what you need to do to survive,” says Moloney.
Pow-Cow is manufactured in the UK, after Moloney failed to find a sub-contractor in Ireland. “As our process is a little different to the norm, we really struggled to find someone in Ireland to take us seriously. I had to look further afield and we found a great partner in the UK who have been behind us every step of the way.”
Moloney’s frozen yoghurt is only sold in Ireland at present, although he is hoping to secure a UK stockist shortly. Last year Pow-Cow was accepted on the Food-X accelerator in New York. “I will be basing myself in the US to develop this market over the next 18 months,” Moloney adds.
There are two full-time and two part-time staff working for Pow-Cow from the Greenway Innovation Hub at DIT Grangegorman. In Moloney’s view, the high-protein snack market will continue to grow. “From living in the US I can see further niches developing. Plant-based protein products are the ones to keep an eye on, in my opinion.”
Coping With No
Moloney has also learned a bit more about the entrepreneurial grind. “There are two pieces of advice I give to anyone starting out. First, whatever you have budgeted the project to cost, double it, and triple the length of time you think it’s going to take.
“Secondly, remember that every ‘No’ is a step closer to a ‘Yes’. For a startup, hearing no all the time can be tough. I think it’s important to distance your emotions, reflect and get feedback on why it wasn’t a yes, to improve for next time.”