Memore Supports Brain Health
August 24, 2022
Brad and Erika Lepczyk, founders of Memore, wanted to create something to nourish the brain. Having witnessed the effects of dementia firsthand, they were inspired to embark on an entrepreneurial journey into the food industry. An acquaintance from NC State recommended reaching out to the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) to get started. They connected with Executive Director Bill Aimutis, and the rest is history.
NCFIL: How did you come up with the concept for Memore?
BL: Dementia runs in Erika’s family, and the MIND Diet was a big inspiration for the construction of the Memore blend. As the first whole food powders for brain health, Memore aims to boost cognitive function by nourishing the whole body. The only things on the market in the brain health industry are quick fixes rather than whole-body nourishment, but the brain cannot be healthy if the gut, the heart, the whole person is not healthy.
NCFIL: How did NCFIL help get the product underway? How was it beneficial to work with them?
BL: Working with a food scientist at NCFIL was extremely helpful. We met with a team and started the ideation process, which included different exercises to determine what the product should be, and how and why it would have a competitive advantage in the market. Then, NCFIL guided us through the development process, helping us identify the ingredients to use. Our goal was to use whole food ingredients, so NCFIL advised that we needed ingredients that are highly-sourced and readily-available from suppliers.
One of the challenges many small food producers face is that the industry as a whole will not take you seriously if you are a young brand because so many fail. In the early days, it was tough to get someone’s ear. Our partnership with NCFIL has been a huge advantage as they have made introductions to reputable suppliers.
Another huge benefit is they let us be hands-on in the construction of the product. We were also able to do test runs and initial product runs at a very small volume, which is rare without coming into the space with tons of money. It’s been nice to have an idea of how the manufacturing process works and how to recognize a good co-packer because of experiences we had at NCFIL’s lab. They do everything by the book one hundred percent.
NCFIL: Tell us more about your product. How is it doing in the market?
BL: We have two blends: the Memore Original blend and the Greens blend. The Memore blend is a mix of greens, protein, and fiber. It is a great base for smoothies because it doesn’t conflict with other ingredients. The Greens blend, which launched about a month and a half ago, supplies a serving of actual leafy greens. It tastes like tea and is best served over ice. It has done really well, better than we expected. With Memore Original, we had to convince potential customers that brain health is important. With the Greens, it fits into a more established market within the health and wellness space, so while less consumer education is needed, there’s more existing competition.
Right now, we are Direct-to-Consumer only. We are looking ahead to an omni-channel approach, including a presence in brick and mortar stores. We just landed a deal with LuleLemon in a Minneapolis store, which is a great partnership for brand exposure. We’re also planning to get into a few yoga studios in the Pittsburgh area, and we want to be in small health food stores.
NCFIL: How can you and NCFIL continue to partner in the future?
BL: If we expand our product line again, we will go back to NCFIL for sure. They taught us a lot about manufacturing and creating powder products. If we were to do a bar, we would need their support again. We are potentially reformulating the Memore blend because some consumers are using it as a protein powder. If we decide to include more protein, the formula would require tweaking, so NCFIL could help us with that too.
NCFIL: What is one piece of advice you can offer other food entrepreneurs?
BL: If you have an idea and want to pursue it, you need to tell people, especially close friends and family. It holds you accountable to see it through.
In entrepreneurial journeys, it can feel like not everyone is rooting for you, but food entrepreneurs who are in the trenches know how hard it is and are willing to help at all costs.
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