Popadelics/Fungal Snacks with Marilyn Yang feature #38 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature # 38: Popadelics/Fungal Snacks presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on Popadelics/Fungal Snacks
In today's edition of the "Together Talks" campaign, KLS welcomes Popadelics/Fun-Gal Snacks and Co-Founder, Marilyn Yang. Trippin’ flavor. Killer crunch. Their craveable caps are shiitake mushrooms reimagined for the modern superfood snacker. As much as they like snacking, Co-Founders Marilyn Yang and Michael Casali also like to stay healthy. When thinking about all the current snacking options available, they realized that they all taste the same. Kale chips, Seaweed chips, the list goes on — none of these snacking trends offered anything interesting, unique, or delicious. So they came up with a better-for-you snack that delivers on the flavor standards they craved. Popadelics Crunchy Mushroom Chips aren’t just a snack, they’re an experience.
Popadelics creator and original “fun gal” Marilyn Yang founded Fun-Gal Snacks on a mission to create innovative snacks that harness the benefits of mushrooms and other underloved veggies—all while supporting social causes.
The idea of the company started during the pandemic, July 2020 to be specific. Marilyn and her partner, Michael, who both work in the finance world, conjured the idea. She told us they had so much time during the pandemic like all of us and had always wanted to create a business. They shared a lifelong love of mushrooms, so that was the first domino. Then they began searching for mushroom snacks. They realized there were little to no options when it came to mushroom chips. There are kale, corn, and potato, but no mushroom chips. With the foundation laid, they got to work creating what would become Popadelics/Fun-Gal Snacks.
Making their Mark
Marilyn joked that the company was their "COVID Baby". The Company was formally incorporated in July 2020, and the product first launched in April 2022. To date, there have been 3 iterations of the product, with the latest having been released in March 2023. Marilyn advised us they are always trying to innovate and improve. They want to be conscious of consumers' wants, desires, and feedback. But they also realize there is a balance. The company is always evaluating how much cleaner they make their ingredients. They are also evaluating how to improve sustainability and always consider removing ingredients that may give consumers pause. Ultimately, they walk a fine rope making sure taste is never sacrificed.
Innovation isn't just with the product, packaging, or branding, but also their reach and distribution. The company began as a D2C brand in April 2022. Quickly they followed that up by beginning to sell on Amazon. They then first started to reach out to independent natural food stores in June 2022. Currently, they are in nearly 400 stores across the US. The product originally targeted the natural foods market, but is also gaining momentum among conventional grocery stores.
Getting brand exposure has been one of the challenges for the company, but Marilyn enjoys the uniqueness. Quickly they figured out how expensive digital marketing was, and that as a self-funded startup, it didn't make sense to allocate funds in that way. They realized guerilla marketing and developing a strong, organic online presence made the most sense for the company. They leaned in on getting the product in consumers' mouths since mushroom chips are such a new product and a new space. They participate in nearly every sample opportunity that arises. Strategically they have also partnered with relevant cultural events including music festivals and most recently provided product for a pool party held during Coachella.
We asked Marilyn, what differentiates Popadelics from competitors, and she told us, "There are mushroom jerkies out there, but no hip, modern, homegrown brand targeted to the younger, American audience in the mushroom chip world. Similar products were mostly foreign and formulated for a primarily Asian audience. Rarely were they found in mainstream stores." Popadelics targets people looking for adventurous foods, who want to eat well, but not sacrifice on taste. She continued, "We are providing a new product in the space to replace traditional, unhealthier snack options but tastes just as good.”
The connection to the local community is also vital to Popadelics. They take pride in establishing a relevant presence in music, art, and other cultural areas given their grassroots approach. Being a start-up in the CPG industry also allows them to remain nimble and adaptive. Marilyn said that compared to big conglomerates which are only capable of making incremental changes slowly, her company can make swift changes that can have ripple effects and usher in big impacts. She values this type of not only transparency, but also creativity to mold the company.
Marilyn and Mike also founded the Fun-Gal Snacks Foundation, a charitable foundation which partners with a number of causes related to health and wellness. Her overall goal is to make mushrooms of all kinds mainstream. One avenue for this is supporting research into the use of psilocybin to treat mental health, namely at John Hopkins. Also, Popadelics has partnered with local organizations like Welcome to Chinatown and also other events supporting the AAPI community, as well as charitable organizations in the brand’s hometown of NYC such as Wellfare, which helps provide access to healthier pantry options to underprivileged communities.
We asked Marilyn about the goals for the remainder of 2023 and beyond. She told us they hope to at least double their store count while focusing on retail growth. In the years to come, they hope to ultimately expand into foodservice, particularly office pantries.
When we asked her what challenges may pose as obstacles to reaching those goals, she shared, "Being bootstrapped always makes it a challenge financially and resource-wise. We have to be selective about our marketing efforts and the events we attend. Learning and gaining experience in the CPG industry as a whole has also been a learning curve. Neither of us comes from this space and it is completely new to us, so understanding all of the complexities keeps us on our toes. Luckily, we both come from the fast-paced world of finance, which allows us to be efficient once we learn the ropes.”
Partner with KLS
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All in without, all in
Marilyn and Michael are a special set of founders as this is not their only work. While completely invested in this company, it is not their only source of work, income, or responsibility. Marilyn shared how she thinks that having other streams of income has allowed them to grow and succeed at the pace they have because the added stress factors aren't built in. She told us, "I couldn't imagine doing this and only this. We have that stability and security to fall back on. We chose to go this route, because it made more sense for our goals and aligned with our vision to grow our business the way we wanted to, without too many cooks in the kitchen, such as investors, too early on in our journey." Coming from an immigrant household, she was raised to value financial stability. This pairing allows them the best of both worlds.
She shared with us that the goal is to keep the company as a small team to keep it a tight circle. This is vital to continue building it their way and to continue the ethos they have built. They are hoping to foster an autonomous environment with no micro-managing, instead having everyone marching to the same goal, having the ability to delegate and ultimately instill that sense of personal ownership with team members buying in.
Having a small team has also permitted Popadelics to be adaptable, as she previously mentioned. "We can challenge our decisions, and we also don't have to get multiple layers of approval for decisions because it is just us. One blessing in disguise I believe is that we didn't go the fundraising route. It would have been so time consuming and strenuous, and instead we focused on producing and growing our company. Had we waited for funding first, I think it would've slowed us down significantly, and we wouldn't be where we are today."
Marilyn said that from the beginning, she had a clear vision for the product: that it should be crunchy and feel and taste like a chip, but also consist of a full mushroom cap. She informed us that many veggie chips actually contain extraneous ingredients. By using a full mushroom cap, is clear that Popadelics are truly made with mushrooms. Surprisingly, when it came to settling on the flavors of Popadelics, they simply came up with their personal favorite global flavors, and it has worked!
We were curious if Marilyn has a favorite memory so far, she exclaimed, "Our first big account was Urban Outfitters, very early on. Not coming from the industry and learning quickly on the job, we realized in that moment that there is something here. Then there was the external validation at our first trade show, the SFA Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC. In retrospect, we were literally a brand new brand and were probably even too new to have done it, but it ended up giving us a ton of validity."
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Klimson Logistics Solutions - Popadelics/Fungal Snacks with Marilyn Yang feature #38 of Together Talks
*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST Customer Service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign "Together Talks" if you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!
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We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.
Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.
Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.
The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.
Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.
Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.
You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.
For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.
This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.
Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.
Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth
LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).
Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.
FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.
Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution
What makes KLS different?
There are thousands for freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.
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