At PowerPlant Partners, Operations are in Our DNA

Dan Gluck — June 14, 2022


The chia seed might not get much atten­tion in the U.S., but to the Tarahu­mara tribe in Mexico’s Cop­per Canyon region, it is a cor­ner­stone of the local diet. They live very sim­ple lives through hunt­ing and gath­er­ing, and one of their main sources of nutri­tion and ener­gy is chia seeds.

They’re onto some­thing too, since the Tarahu­mara are known as some of the strongest endurance ath­letes on the plan­et, capa­ble of run­ning hun­dreds of miles at a time with­out rest and chas­ing prey for days at a time, fueled by lit­tle more than seeds.

I first learned about the tribe and the pow­er of their tiny super­food when I read the book “Born to Run,” which came out in 2011 and pro­filed the group as well as a mys­te­ri­ous White run­ner who joined them every year on long runs through the canyons. But it was the nutri­tion­al ben­e­fits of the chia seeds them­selves that jumped out at me, in part because I was active­ly train­ing for and com­pet­ing in Iron­man triathlons at the time, and knew how dif­fi­cult it was to fuel up for long, gru­el­ing events.

So I tried it and quick­ly real­ized that this “home­grown Red Bull” lived up to the hype while also offer­ing some amaz­ing nutri­tion­al ben­e­fits. It didn’t take long before I was import­ing them to the U.S. and build­ing a busi­ness, Health War­rior, around chia-based prod­ucts. We had a glob­al launch in Whole Foods stores and became the best-sell­ing nutri­tion bar in our cat­e­go­ry before sell­ing to Pep­si­Co in 2018.

I share this sto­ry not to high­light the exit but to bet­ter explain what brought me to Pow­er­Plant Part­ners, because I wasn’t always an entre­pre­neur.

I cut my teeth in finance in the hedge fund world, learn­ing about every­thing from mod­el­ing, to busi­ness strat­e­gy, to port­fo­lio man­age­ment and invest­ing through mul­ti­ple cycles. I was invest­ing most­ly in U.S. equi­ties and real estate, but our man­date was glob­al and so we were work­ing with busi­ness­es all over the world as well.

But it was what I called my “side hus­tle” – Health War­rior – that was my true pas­sion.

It fit with my per­son­al inter­est in health and well­ness, allowed me to apply the prac­ti­cal lessons I was learn­ing as a com­pet­i­tive endurance ath­lete, and was giv­ing me new insights into the inner work­ings of the con­sumer pack­aged goods busi­ness. In the end, I real­ized that there are more ways to make mon­ey in busi­ness than just sit­ting behind a Bloomberg ter­mi­nal and invest­ing in pub­lic com­pa­nies. There was a way for me to match my pas­sion for health and well­ness with the invest­ing expe­ri­ence I already had. 

At the same time, an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty was unfold­ing in front of me as all the big, pub­licly trad­ed food com­pa­nies were com­ing under sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure from insur­gent brands like my own. It was a fun­da­men­tal reset. So, I decid­ed to repo­si­tion myself and my career to focus on the pri­vate mar­kets where all the action was hap­pen­ing in health and well­ness. It was a great mix of my entre­pre­neur­ial expe­ri­ence with my insti­tu­tion­al invest­ing expe­ri­ence. 

And, for Pow­er­Plant, this has made all the dif­fer­ence.

As for­mer oper­a­tors our­selves, we know exact­ly what our founders are going through and how dif­fi­cult it is to scale a CPG com­pa­ny. It makes you much more empa­thet­ic to the chal­lenges of build­ing a busi­ness, par­tic­u­lar­ly around man­ag­ing large teams, and you have the rep­e­ti­tions down since you’ve seen it all before. You have a play­book and know how to tap it when your founders hit the wall or hit a plateau, which invari­ably every sin­gle busi­ness does.

This extends to the pub­lic side, as well.

Our insti­tu­tion­al knowl­edge as for­mer pub­lic mar­ket investors gives us a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what those types of investors are look­ing for so that we can help our port­fo­lio com­pa­nies posi­tion them­selves with that end in mind. We know what ques­tions they’re going to ask, what they need in terms of finan­cial, what they want to see in cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, etc. It can be easy for founders, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing times of mar­ket eupho­ria when com­pa­nies can so eas­i­ly go pub­lic, to lose sight of what it real­ly means to be a pub­lic com­pa­ny and the over­sight and qual­i­ty that you need to be suc­cess­ful. Our expe­ri­ence brings a more dis­ci­plined under­stand­ing of what the process looks like, and what the demands are going to be, because I’ve looked at so many IPOs over the years and know that investors can sniff out the good ones and the bad ones pret­ty quick­ly.

At the end of the day, it’s all about help­ing our port­fo­lio com­pa­nies grow their busi­ness­es and achieve the out­comes we’re both look­ing for. From oper­a­tions, to finan­cials, to gov­er­nance, we’ve been there before and know what it takes. And that type of advan­tage starts from the ground up.

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