The Transcript Is Auto Generated And May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors
Unknown Speaker 0:00
from ABC News Radio Okay, MBT 1490 in Southern California. This is biz ninja entrepreneur radio with your host Tyler Jorgenson.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:13
All right, welcome out to business entrepreneur radio. My name is Tyler Jorgensen. And I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the youngest entrepreneurs that I’ve had on the show, at least in the recent past. Alina Morse, who is the CEO of volley candy, and I’m going to let her tell us a little bit about what this is because it’s fascinating and delicious. And I’m a major sugar junkie. So this is really cool for me, Alina, welcome to the show.
Alina Morse 0:40
Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:44
So right off the bat, what is Zolli candy?
Alina Morse 0:47
Yeah, so Zolli candy is all natural sugar free candy that actually cleans your teeth. So it’s free of the top seven allergens. Gluten Free vegan, non GMO With all natural flavors and colors, it’s basically accessible for everyone. And it’s, I mean, it cleans your teeth, and it’s delicious. So it’s perfect for kids and families, people of all ages loves Ollie candy, because who doesn’t love having something sweet? That’s totally guilt free. You don’t have to worry about cavities, sugar, anything like that.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:23
That is insane. So recovering sugar addict here, and I got some of your product yesterday, I’ll show a couple for those of you that are catching us on youtube or wherever else I’ll show a couple of them. They have lollipops, they have taffy. They have you know, sugar. I don’t even know what they’re called other types of really good stuff. And but they’re all sugar free and good for your oral health, which is crazy. So Alina, on this show, we cover two things. We want to talk about your business, but we also want to talk about your entrepreneurial journey. So why, like how did this happen? I mean, first of all, how old Are you? So I
Alina Morse & Tyler Jorgenson 2:01
just turned 15 Happy birthday.
Alina Morse 2:04
Thank you, thank you. But I’ve been doing this this business stuff for over half my life. So I started when I was seven years old on a trip to the bank because my dad, the bank teller, you know, as they do offered me a lollipop. And my dad told me No, you shouldn’t have candy because sugar is terrible for your teeth. So I asked him, Well, why can’t we make a healthy lollipop that’s good for my teeth. So I could have candy and it wouldn’t be bad for me. And you know, after about 100 times of asking my dad, you know, when are we going to make these lollipops? We’re never going to make these lollipops. He finally caved in and said, You know Alina, if you want to make something happen, you have to write it down. So I wrote out a plan and my idea binder and that was the beginning.
Tyler Jorgenson 2:52
So seven years old. You have this epiphany at the bank because your dad was being a good dad and not letting you just have sugar anytime you wanted it. not buying you, North Korea, which was great. And so he’s saying though, and inspires this idea, but you didn’t let it go. So this is your seven This is now almost eight years ago. What? You wrote it down in your idea binder you kept pressuring and what was your next step?
Alina Morse 3:17
So my next step was, you know, obviously writing down what I wanted the product to look like a be writing down what kind of I I wanted ingredients, which in my mind was like sugar, not sugar flavor.
Tyler Jorgenson 3:36
Yeah, you’re a seven year old. Not
Alina Morse 3:39
exactly. Yeah. I realize, okay, this isn’t much of a plan. So I went to Google, like any you know, kid would, and I watched YouTube videos of people making lollipops in you know, big factories. I watched videos on you know why sugars bad for you? I did a lot of research. about, you know, cavities. I read some things from the a DA, kind of showing how hard candy is such a kind of a gateway for for cavities, because that sugar is prolonged in your mouth. But then I actually made a very shocking discovery. tooth decay is actually the single greatest epidemic facing kids in America today, according to the US Surgeon General. And after finding this out, I realized, you know, tooth decay is a preventable disease, but still the number one growing epidemic. And, you know, nobody’s educating kids about this, like, yeah, they’re saying brush your teeth, you don’t want to get cavities. But what are they really doing to prevent this? And so really, that was kind of the starting point for when I realized, you know, I want to not only create a candy that my parents can’t say no to, but create a candy that could help kids all over the world that are struggling with this epidemic. There’s Yeah, epidemic. And so, you know, it was a, it was a lot of research, researching what ingredients, you know, could be substituted for sugar. And there’s not many, honestly that would, that would taste like a normal candy. Right. And I also, you know, found out that nobody has done this before. Like, nobody has tried to create a completely sugar free, functional, healthy candy that cleans your teeth. And so that was really interesting to me as well. But I wanted to really make it about the mission, which, you know, from the very beginning, it was always reducing or eliminating counter tooth decay. So, along with kind of researching what we can do to create this actual product, I was also researching how I could educate kids about this. How can I let your kids know that, you know, there’s another option there is this kid Did that I want to create that, you know, you can have as a substitute for your normal sugary candy, but it tastes just as great. So after all that research after putting together an ingredient list with the help of my dentist and my dental hygienist, me and my dad, who at the time was a business consultant, and now works as the business manager of the company. He said, okay, Alina, you’re gonna have to help me scout out some manufacturing facilities, because although he was a business consultant, he had never worked with candy ever. He had no idea how to go about this. And so he was like, Okay, well, I would normally suck like, look for a factory. So I guess that’s what we’ll do now. And I was like, Okay, cool. Like, I want to, I want to find a factory. That’d be awesome. It’d be like the videos I watched on YouTube. Yeah. And so one day, this is kind of a funny, funny story that really kind of shows how young and inexperienced I was. My dad said, okay, Lena, we’re going to go tour a plant. And so you know, we go we go to this. You No huge factory and little insight into the candy industry. All the big candy brands use the same factories. So that’s why there’s some overlap when you’re like, this candy kind of tastes like this candy, but they’re from different brands. They’re all made in the same places. So we were pretty one of the big candy factories. And, you know, I’m by the end of the tour, and my dad told me, you know, this is a plant, and that’s, you know, what we call manufacturing facilities. And so I’m like, looking around at the end, I’m like, great tour, where’s the plant? He’s like, No, no, this is the plant and I’m like, No, no, no, where’s the potted plant? And I’m completely serious. I’m like, Where’s the plant? And he’s like, No, no, um, but you know,
Tyler Jorgenson 7:44
where’s the xylitol tree? Right.
Alina Morse 7:46
Exactly. Exactly. And, ironically, it’s all does grow on trees.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:53
So, yeah, so Okay, idea ID seven. I’m gonna map this out for our listeners. You personally And I like that you said essentially you wanted a candy your parents wouldn’t say no to. So for you, the first thing you were doing was just trying to solve a problem but having candy whenever you wanted it, right, and then it but then it evolved into really a mission of being able to help kids and oral health. So how old were you now when you’re touring this plant?
Alina Morse 8:18
Seven, round eight or nine years old?
Tyler Jorgenson 8:22
a year. So it is,
Alina Morse 8:24
yeah, you’re so into it. After touring about, you know, 10 plants. We just died on when we like, which was difficult considering you know, not every manufacturing facility can handle, you know, sugar free candy. That has to be on separate equipment, but that’s boring stuff. Sure. So, you know, after finding a plant that we could use, we basically, you know, worked with their food scientist to develop, you know, the finalized ingredient list. And then we just started running product. And the initial investment was about 70 $500, which was My money from grandparents, birthdays Christmas that I’ve been saving up for this this grand idea. And then my dad matched it. So that’s, if you want to do the math, cut it in half, but about 70 $500 That’s awesome. Yeah. And so, you know, no big investment. It’s just you know, a little bit to get it going.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:21
So making candy is part of it. Right? And I’m sure Hey, you can spend 7500 bucks, make some candy and you and your family will eat it. But that wasn’t the goal. The goal is to actually get customers and start selling. So how did like did you still lead some of this? That like getting the product to market part of the next steps?
Alina Morse 9:38
Exactly. Yeah. So, finalizing product finalizing packaging, finally coming up with the name as Zolli pops. And then we we jumped right in. We’ve skipped all the normal steps of some of most, you know small businesses where they go to their small mom and pop stores and try and sell locally. We jumped right into Whole Foods markets in Southern California. It was my first ever business meeting. So we met with the buyers. They loved the idea they loved the product and they brought us in which was really really exciting right off the bat letting you know kind of a nobody company into their stores was a big jump for us. And it was you know, a struggle creating all that or getting all that product prepared for to sell because you know, we were doing a lot of assembly. We were very small, barely had a team. And yeah, from there we got on to amazon.com and now we’re the number two best selling hard candy on Amazon out of all sugar and sugar free. So we’re selling more than blow pop Tootsie Pop online, and you know, Amazon influences 70% of sales in store. So, you know if people are loving it online, people are loving it in store too. And that’s what we tell that’s what we told Kroger CBS Walgreens target Walmart when we got into their stores, yeah.
brought us in.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:07
So a lot of what my company does and what we do in the in entrepreneurship is talk about what you just said, which is that there’s a blended approach to the digital and the, and the brick and mortar. Right. And I think right now, with everything going on in the world, that’s even more apparent that If so, you guys had a really strong digital presence on Amazon. But then you also were able to leverage that as you got into wholesalers. And I think that’s amazing. Like, what was your The hardest thing going through all of that process for you to either figure out or, like, what major Did you hit any roadblocks that you had to overcome?
Alina Morse 11:38
Yeah, we totally hit a major roadblock very early in the company, basically. So the way in which we were making the product made it very susceptible to being hydroscopic. Basically, that means the product sucked in the moisture in the air and it melted. So the product was still fine, but it was like a melty blob in the plastic. So Obviously, not a good not a good thing to deal with not good emails that we were getting from customers, after you know them leaving it in their purse in our car, you know, stuff like that. And we wanted it to be shelf stable, of course. And you know, it’s a goal for any CPG company to have a long shelf life. But it’s difficult with with the ingredients we were using, and especially with the process in which we are making them. So you have to have the perfect environment in the factory, you have to have the perfect humidity. So if you’re a little bit over, it makes them really, really soft. Or no, no, it’s the opposite. Actually, wait, no, I was right. If you’re a little bit over, it makes them really susceptible to melting. And if you’re a little bit under it makes them susceptible to getting really brittle and making kind of white crystallization. And so this was something that we had to you know, really kind of work with our men. Factoring facility about, you know, we basically, you know, went to them or like we can’t make them here if we can’t have this humidity perfect. So that was something we worked on for a long time. Probably, you know, six months. And we finally fixed it six, eight months, roughly. And we finally fixed it. And now we have a shelf life of three years. Although it’s stable, like rock candy, we ship it on vessels to China, Korea, no melting. So that was a that was a huge roadblock. But, you know, it’s definitely been for the better.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:35
So you’re 15 now, you’ve been working on this project this business for eight years. And it’s obviously going really well. I mean, being number two in any category on Amazon is amazing, let alone a big category, like what you’re dominating. That’s insane. And we’ve had some top Amazon sellers on the show before all of them would be I know just blown away. And then not only that, you’re All these retailers, so eight years of business is a lot longer than a lot of entrepreneurs stick with the business. So you’ve stuck with this business for a while, which even you know, you’re young, but you have obviously some real, real desire to like make something happen. What was the absolute hardest day in the last eight years of being CEO of lollipops?
Alina Morse 14:19
Oh, man, there’s been some hard days. I would say it’s not necessarily a day it’s more a time when that is a reoccurring time. So it’s almost like deja vu every time it happens. But we go to a lot of business conferences, you know, EC RM. We go to Expo last every year. sweets and snacks. Yeah, even is the largest candy show in the entire world and Cologne, Germany. So I’ve been to a lot of shows, I’ve had a lot of meetings, thousands of meetings over the span of this company. And there’s always those few meetings every so often. In where they walk in, and they, it’s usually not to generalize, but it’s the older generation. Sure. They look at you, or they look at me. And they look at my dad and they, I can tell they’re like it’s not bring your daughter to Work Day. Who is she? What’s going on here? And I know what I got to do. And then I break into my, my super serious, lots of busy words, pitch.
Tyler Jorgenson 15:32
Got it? You know, it’s those days where I know people don’t believe in me and I know people don’t believe that I am not just the face of the company that I’m the CEO. And I work very hard. And I put in my time, and I’ve been putting in my time for you know, eight years. I built this from the bottom up. So, so facing to kind of break that down. So facing the stereotype that a kid can’t really be running a business or you know, that therefore like I’m gonna just talk Dad, right. Now you’ve been dealing with that since probably early on calling the manufacturers finding people, they’re probably like, Who am I talking to? Right? double checking, making sure that they’re hearing you correctly. Has it gotten better? As you’ve gotten a little bit older? I mean, you’re 15 now, right? You look a little bit you look more mature than you did as an eight year old kid. Has it gotten better? Or is it still the same thing? Where do they just see a young girl? And you’ve got to face it head on?
Alina Morse 16:26
I would say it’s definitely gotten better. But it’s gotten better with the more I know. And so I guess from that standpoint, you know, I haven’t gone to business school and still a freshman in high school. So there’s a lot I don’t know about, you know, real, like real world experiences in a way. I’ve definitely learned a lot more in these, you know, seven, seven or eight years than I probably would have and in 20 years. Yeah. But I would say it’s as much as it’s gotten better with age, I’ve had to really, really push myself to always be on my feet. And as any business owner should be, I’ve been holding, you know, from a young age, I’ve held myself to the higher standard where I should know everything about the company more than anyone else in the room. So I from that point, like,
Tyler Jorgenson 17:20
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I really like that. So I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a kid, not with a big business, like what you’ve built. But five years old, I started coming up with ways to make money and I’m a little bit older than you. And so I’ve gone through this cycle several times. And I’ll tell you, it’s one it’s really cool to hear that you’ve stuck with this one idea and really grown it into a real, legitimate big company. Later in my life. I actually went back to business school, so I you know, and I got a master’s degree and I did all that stuff. I’ll tell you what, this is just my one thing for you. You know, more than anybody sitting in business school because what they know is they know the books. They know what the textbook says. they’ve read their Probably going to read your case study, right? And they may know how to analyze something or do things but they don’t understand business at the way that someone like you, who’s been running a business, hands into business understanding every single aspect. Most people that are in business school are doing one piece of the business, very few of them are entrepreneurs. They’re starting to be a little bit of an evolution of entrepreneurship and colleges again, but and so I just think it’s amazing what you’re doing. And I hope you I hope nobody ever holds that against you that you’re just a freshman in high school because what you really are is a CEO of a very successful company that you that you came up with and built over the past eight years. I think it’s amazing. And the candy is really good. So again, for myself from a self confessed sugar junkie. I was very skeptical, but I tried so far I’ve tried the TAF ease. And what were the other ones called the
Alina Morse 18:52
drops. Are they small?
Tyler Jorgenson 18:54
Yeah, the ones that are like chewy, so they’re really nice. Yeah, the gummies because I love those kind of things. Right? Like, it’s like, like a healthy version of Sour Patch Kids kind of right.
Alina Morse 19:05
Yeah, those are part of our brand new product line that we just released. So our brand new product line consists of caramels gummies. And then a bunch of new flavors, peach, watermelon, green, apple, blue, raspberry watermelon. So the Cardinals will be in CBS early June. Very cool. So
Tyler Jorgenson 19:22
pretty exciting. Very exciting. So you, let’s do two things. I want to take this to more directions, and we’ll kind of start wrapping up. One, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who have an idea and want to make it a reality?
Alina Morse 19:37
Yeah, so this is something that I guess I’ve learned over time by, you know, being an entrepreneur and then watching other people, especially adults, you know, as a kid, never stop asking questions. Never, ever stop asking questions because as you grow up, you’re going to want to look more professional. You’re going to want to you know, like I said, be the smartest person in the room. By You can’t get to that point. If you stop asking questions, you stop being curious. That’s when you stop growing, you stop learning. So never stop asking questions. I would say, this is kind of a little motto that that my dad always told me probably since I was, you know, three or four years old. He said, work hard, try, believe and never give up. And if you break that down, honestly, those are the keys to kind of anything in life, anything you want to accomplish. You just got to work hard. Try believe in, never give up. Another thing I would say is, you know, once you’re getting into business, don’t take it all on yourself. This is a general business thing, especially if you’re in that CEO role. You have to delegate and you have to, you know, one, hire people that you trust, and you know, hire people that are equally as passionate about this business as you are and that are obviously good at their job. And then too, you know, trust them enough to let them do their thing. Because there’s especially for me, I, you know, didn’t go to business school. I know nothing about accounting. I’m in like ninth grade math, I am taking algebra. And you know, I can’t drive a forklift legally. So I have to let my team you know, do their thing. I do their job. And obviously, we’re very, very collaborative. And, you know, one of our big things is never assume Never assume you’re right. Never assume you know the answer. Always ask. But you know, you just have to have to be a part of a team. And working in business is, you know, what I like to say a team sport. And it’s my sport. So. So, yeah, it’s just it’s really important to do that. Because, you know, in business, there are people that will screw you over, but if you hire the right people, you know, you can you’ll you’ll grow a lot quicker. Or if you have people that you can count on.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:55
Yeah, so I love all of those are very, very good mantras that many And having a growth mindset to me is one of the biggest things, indicators of whether or not an entrepreneur is going to be successful. Are they still open minded? I love that idea of never stop asking questions and never assuming, right? Because so many entrepreneurs, they think that in order to be the CEO or be that leader, they have to always have the answers. And that’s actually the fastest path to like, stopping growth. So really fascinating. So for your brand, you’ve got some really cool stuff. You got some new products that you just talked about? What are some of your big goals over the next couple of years?
Alina Morse 22:31
Well, I want to start driving in a couple of years, hopefully. Not very good. So I can’t make any promises. But I’m from the Motor City. So I have I have my pick of cars. Any car brands sponsor me, I love I love all of you. Anyways, so I would say you know, on from a business standpoint, we definitely want to continue growing. We did experience some setbacks, obviously during this time, we experienced them setbacks, but we’re still on a on a steady track, we hope to, you know, expand even more internationally. We currently you know, do sell internationally in China, Korea, France, the Philippines, Morocco, the UK, and more. But, you know, we want to keep making Alicante accessible for everyone, of course, you know, trying to get our new products into retail, which is a long process, of course, but it seems like we’re on the right path. And, um, you know, as kind of our businesses long term goal, kind of for forever, this is going to be our goal. And I think this is the reason that we’ve stuck with this business so long, other than Of course, because I love it, you know, it’s my baby. And, you know, it’s just such an amazing and kind of empowering company to have a young woman CEO behind it. And of course, you know, it’s a very useful product. But, you know, our main goal is to, you know, eliminate childhood tooth decay, and although school is on hold right now, our nonprofit, we’re constantly growing million smiles initiative where we give free candy to schools across America to teach kids about the importance of oral healthcare and entrepreneurship, and all that good stuff that you know, kids should be learning about in school. So, you know, that’s that’s our nonprofit that we’ve been trying to grow.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:17
I love it. All right, we got like one more minute to wrap up. So, first of all, thank you so much for coming out sharing so much knowledge and information. And really, it’s not about your age, because you’re just eight years of running any company, you’re going to learn a ton. And thanks for sharing that with all of our listeners. What is one item on your personal bucket list other than driving that you’re gonna accomplish in the next 12 months?
Alina Morse 24:40
Oh, man, I’m gonna get Tick Tock famous.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:43
Uh huh. I love it. I’m,
Alina Morse 24:45
you know, I still have my teenage goals. But yeah, it’s good. I want to get back to dance. I miss dance. I’m a competition dancer. So that’s a goal.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:54
Yeah, for me. Those are two awesome goals and I love it. Thank you so much for coming out. Please. Everyone go find Zolli Candy on the internet and we will link it in all the show notes and that sort of thing but if you’re listening on on radio check out Zolli candy calm and thanks for coming out Alina, you are awesome. Thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker 25:15
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