💊hi gray: Behave, Disrupting The Candy Scene With A 1-Gram-Sugar Gummy
hi gray Q&A #8
February 28, 2021
Hi, it’s Janine. hi gray is a newsletter about those creating human-first digital health companies. Today, we’re diving into Behave, a direct to consumer startup disrupting the candy space.
Behave, a New York City based startup, is focused on disrupting the candy scene by creating ones that consumers can enjoy guilt-free. Launches in 2020, the company did a small friends and family round before its launch, the amount was undisclosed.
“Behave is a modern, low-sugar, low-net-carb candy brand helping you reclaim your cravings with its debut product -- gummy bears -- featuring only 1g sugar, 4g net carbs, 80 calories and 6g of protein. Bringing a culinary first approach, Behave is reinventing the candy experience with better-for-you, chef-crafted sweets, elevated flavors and all natural ingredients. It's rebelling against the notion that candy can’t be good for you!,” founder Mayssa Chehata describes the company.
We got a chance to talk to Mayssa, an Uber alumna, about the initial days of creating the company from scratch, what the competition is like, and what’s next for Behave.
Hi Gray: Let’s start off with how you got the idea to start Behave?
Mayssa Chehata: Being sort of a health-forward candy brand, people would think I was this only super healthy eater, and it’s actually kind of the complete opposite. What really got me into this project is that I was such a junk food lover and such a candy lover and have a sweet tooth. Growing up I ate really healthy at home and we really didn’t have a lot of candy in the house. My dad was diabetic and that was part of what kept us eating healthy. But I think what this meant was when I could get my hands on candy as a kid, I would just totally go off the wall with it, and I think that carried over to adulthood. I didn’t have great eating habits.
But towards my mid twenties I really started rethinking what I was eating. And really realizing that wow I have this big sweet tooth and love having candy at the end of the week or as a snack at the movie theatre or the airport, but there are just no good options. All the options that were out there were the same candy brands and the same products from when I was growing up as a kid in the 90s, and there has not been a lot of innovation. And that’s what got my wheels turning around, like OK if I like candy so much and every time I eat candy I have this guilty feeling, I wish there is something out there where I could eat the whole bag and just go about my day and feel great about it.
HG: Did you have a background in candy making before embarking on the journey to create a candy business?
MC: That personal health journey I alluded to really started when I left my job at Uber and I joined a company called Daily Harvest, which is a meal prescription, delivery all natural ingredients, health forward company. That was the first exposure, one into the food world, and two into really the wellness space and the health food world.
When it comes to food and specifically candy manufacturing, I was really completely new to it. I started reaching out to everyone in my network and ask them if they knew of anyone who had started a food and beverage startup so that I could talk to them. It’s really so humbling to look back to myself two years ago starting to have those conversations.
I was really, really raw and I think talking to other founders and asking what is step one …
I definitely did not personally feel equipped to get in the kitchen and play around with recipes and figure it out myself, I’m not a great cook. I knew it wouldn’t have been the best-tasting product it could be. That led me down this path of what if I worked with a very experienced chef, someone who has worked with candy. So I reached out to Elizabeth Faulkner and we connected and started working together literally ordering ingredients off of Amazon and going in the kitchen and playing around with stuff. Literally hand making gummies and creating formulas and recipes.
HG: I’m not too familiar with the candy business, but when you found your perfect recipe, did you go into the process of patenting your product?
MC: It’s something that we obviously hold super confidential, it’s really the secret sauce to our entire business. We believe we’re the best tasting low sugar candy on the market and that really is a testament to all of our hard work. We tested probably over 150 flavors at this point to come to the ones that we’re using. There’s no patenting, it’s really more something we hold dear as a company.
HG: So what’s the competition like for Behave?
MC: When I first had this idea, and it’s been a while back maybe three, four years ago, and when I looked around there was no one doing what we are doing now. What I will say is when I looked at the candy aisle then and still for the most part now, there were the traditional brands, then there were the organic brands that were made using organic honey instead of sugar but those always had the same amount if not more sugar than the traditional candy. And then you would have the sugar-free candy but those were usually made with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, a lot of them using Aspartame and ingredients someone looking to eat cleaner would be staying away from.
We are both low in sugar and don’t use anything artificial. Back then there was no one that did that.
We are both low in sugar and don’t use anything artificial. Back then there was no one that did that. Now there are a few brands that have popped up and paved the way to start educating the consumer. We use monk fruit, we use plant fibers to sweeten our product and that keeps [our product] completely natural but also under 1 gram of sugar per bag.
HG: You’ve largely been focused on the direct to consumer space, but what’s next for Behave?
MC: We launched and we’ve been very focused on direct to consumer since we launched its been a very successful channel for us. We sold out last winter and had a really amazing response to our product and our business online. So we are very focused on that direct to consumer channel on our own website, but at the same time we have started to work with some third party partners and we’ve seen a lot of success. There are a few third party platforms where we’ve gone on and already become the best seller products on those platforms.
So when we see that, we definitely try to think about what is the next step outside of our own website, is it retail, is it some of those delivery apps. Trying to expand our product launch, right now we have sweet gummies and sour gummies there are three flavors in each bag, and were getting deep into testing new flavors.
HG: So I think this is always a fun one to ask, but where did the name “Behave” come from?
MC: In terms of where it came from, it’s funny because I don’t have a clear memory of where it came. At one point I was mentioning this to a girlfriend, and she pulled out a pen and paper, she’s a founder herself, and she started writing a bunch of names down. Behave just kind of popped up on that short list we made over coffee or dinner.
I didn’t actually start working on it until a couple years later and it just kind of stuck. I started using the name Behave, and it conveyed what we’re trying to say. It has this double entendre where we feel like we have to behave ourselves around candy and we’re constantly getting these messages that we should go on diet and eating less sugar and eating less. All of these messages that are so obstructive, especially as women we get so many of these messages. And they take all the fun and all the joy out of just enjoying a sweet snack. And with Behave, you can go for the candy, not think twice about it, you don’t have to behave yourself around candy anymore. And that’s why we made the decision in our logo to cross out the name out - again it’s that double meaning.
👋 Curious about Behave? Read and interact with them here.
If you enjoyed reading this post, share the link with friends and family …
… And for more exclusive Q&A drops Sundays, join the club by signing up below:
Want more? Check out these great reads: