We had the good fortune of connecting with Douglas Raggio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Douglas, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Few consumers are aware that liquid honey is the 3rd most fraudulent food in the world.
Nearly 80% of all liquid honey on retail shelves has been blended with processed sugars and syrups, cut like drugs. Or it’s been heated to muddy its origin and skirt testing for adulteration.
Quite simply, liquid honey can’t be trusted and there’s a strong case that most U.S. consumers have never tasted true honey. It’s a sad state of affairs that we are battling with our snacking honey (aka honeycomb).
What should our readers know about your business?
I’ve spent most my career on the investor side of better-for-you food & beverage. Founding and managing both a VC fund and also a small Private Equity group provided a unique experience to witness and learn from thousands of other founders — both good and bad.
My early career was consumed with marketing with major brands. I got into finance simply because I saw an opportunity. There were so many small healthy food brands that had near-zero access to capital for growth. Seemed odd there wasn’t a VC focused on the food space. So without any food experience, operating experience or any wealthy friends or family, I was able to raise a small fund and make a handful of investments.
Dirty little secret of VC is they have a horrible track record (only 1 in 100 win typically) and I experienced no different. Only one of our initial investments is still operating. I got pretty disillusioned with VC and didn’t like the short-mindedness of the investments. I ended up dissolving the fund and gathering a group of investors to purchase a mid-size superfoods company. Still, playing middleman wasn’t really providing any sort of fulfillment. The investment was sold quickly and I made the turn to founder.
With my experience in food, I knew honey was a highly fraudulent industry, yet much of the fraud could be easily avoided if you went directly to the source — a la honeycomb. But honeycomb was extremely messy and expensive. It wasn’t some brilliant stroke of genius, but really a desire to bring the full nutritional density of honey and provide it in a convenient package, that Pass the Honey was formed.
That simple desire has since blossomed into setting global standards and practices for regenerative beekeeping, securing more than 1.1 million acres in the U.S. for pollinator research and habitat restoration. The purpose of the company has never been clearer but as we started I could have never have seen the global impact we’re now creating. Feels pretty good.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’d hit up Ironsmith Coffee right when they open, grab a book or two at Warwick’s on our way to Balboa Park before checking out what the museums have on exhibit. Probably coerce my buddy into taking his big sailboat out on the bay while we’re down South then head back to Encinitas for a home-cooked meal. Easy-peasy.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Always gotta thank my mom and dad for bringing me into this world. I would also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the thousands of food founders who pitched me in my former VC days. I was able to glean countless lessons from them and avoid many of the most common pitfalls of early food and beverage companies through their successes and failures.
Anna Clevenger Photography