How Chomps Takes A Bite Out of Retail and Ecommerce

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Although it may seem like Chomps has been an overnight success, behind the scenes there has been a lot of hard work, risky bets, and beneficial partnerships that has helped elevate the brand. On this episode, Pete Maldonado, the Co-founder and CEO of Chomps and Stacy Hartnett, the Vice President, E-Commerce & Marketing at Chomps, discuss how the company was bootstrapped, and how it has scaled through both retail and online platforms.

Tune in to learn:

  • The beginnings of Chomps (2:00)
  • The timeline of success (5:45)
  • Lessons learned after getting into Trader Joe’s (13:30)
  • How and why Stacey came on board (15:00)
  • Creating an appetite for risky bets (21:20)
  • Identifying the right platforms (23:00)
  • Contrarian ideas or data to track (31:20)


About the Guest:

Pete Maldonado:

“Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Pete Maldonado traveled to Florida to attend school at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and later to St. Joseph’s College to pursue business management. A natural entrepreneur, Maldonado spent the majority of his twenties, during and after college, as a Personal Trainer carefully studying product labels, nutrition facts and ingredients lists to build custom meal plans for his clients. It was through this experience that he learned how to properly utilize food, with a focus on caloric intake and macronutrients, to create flexible, long-term lifestyle changes. He educated his clients on the importance of organic and non-GMO foods and the unnecessary chemicals that could and should be avoided in one’s diet. Busy with work and always on-the-go, Maldonado was on the hunt for healthy snacks that were truly “clean”, high in protein, low in calories, and didn’t sacrifice quality for taste. Upon realizing that options were limited and identifying a market need, Maldonado was determined to develop his own better-for-you meat snack alternative. Having met his business partner and fellow Co-founder, Rashid Ali, at a poker game in Chicago, Maldonado knew immediately that Ali’s critical thinking coupled with his knowledge in finance and operations would perfectly compliment his own creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Through extensive research into the benefits of regenerative agriculture practices, trial and error in relation to which direction to take the brand’s new grass fed beef company, as well as finding a nearby co-manufacturer to help them develop the product, Chomps was born in 2012. Together, their two-man team kicked off selling meat sticks direct-to-consumer through Facebook ads out of Pete’s spare apartment bedroom. Chomps was profitable within the first 30 days and today, nearly 9 years later, Chomps is one of the fastest growing snack brands in the country, and the fastest growing natural meat stick brand on the market. Maldonado currently resides in Naples, Florida where he met his wife and had two children. At the Chomps Florida headquarters, Maldonado spearheads the sales and marketing divisions, assisting his team in trendspotting and scouring the market for future growth opportunities. Maldonado’s strengths include ingenuity, public speaking and big-picture thinking, among others.”

Stacey Hartnett:

“Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Stacey Hartnett left her hometown to attend college at the University of Connecticut School of Business, majoring in Marketing and International Studies. Following graduation, Hartnett kicked off her career in New York where she forged a path for herself in sales and participated in an account management development track at News Corp. In this role, Hartnett acquired an understanding of traditional shopper marketing tactics in a rotational program by working with clients like Mars and Post, ultimately kickstarting her passion in the CPG space. After 2+ years in this position, Hartnett forecasted a shift in traditional marketing tactics and budgeting as companies slowly began to lean into the digital space. With this shift on the horizon, Hartnett joined Rise Interactive, a growing Chicago boutique digital agency. As Associate Director of E-Commerce and Retail, Hartnett gained expertise in all things digital media, analytics, and UX through a number of noteworthy clients including Ulta Beauty, Pandora Jewelry, Michael’s, Follett and more. There, Hartnett developed a comprehensive understanding of digital channels including paid search, paid social, programmatic/display, affiliate, email, onsite UX and CRO. Hartnett eventually shifted her role within the agency to oversee the Paid Social function. Leading a team of 18 individuals, she developed and drove the company’s media buying strategy, building platform partnerships – which included a number of CPG accounts – across the entire agency book. After four and a half years at Rise, and with a desire to focus solely on CPG, Hartnett accepted a role with Chomps in 2019 as a digital media buyer. Her role quickly evolved, to Director of Ecommerce, in which Hartnett oversaw all E-Commerce and ROI strategy as it relates to digital marketing. Hartnett’s tenacity is demonstrated in numbers, as she helped drive a 291% increase in E-Commerce Sales (2019 v. 2021) and a 32% decrease in CAC from paid media (2019 v. 2021). Based in the Chicago office, Hartnett’s primary areas of focus at Chomps include a datadriven approach to testing, innovation, growth planning and channel development, with a passion for building strong teams and effective cross-functional collaboration.”


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Episode 286