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Letter From The Founder #1: Innovation and Unintended Consequences

Letter From The Founder #1: Innovation and Unintended Consequences

This is me wondering what to do after buying our first mixer in 2011.


First of all, thank you for being part of The GFB family - whether it’s been one day or seven years, you are the reason that we exist and we are truly grateful for each and every one of you.

We think it's about time that we do a better job of sharing an insider view of what happens here, so consider this attempt #1.

GFB + Innovation

Product innovation has always been important at The GFB. We started making gluten-free protein bars in 2010 when “gluten” and “gluten-free” were terms that only drew blank stares. Since then, we’ve tried our best to create new and innovative products like our Bites and Power Breakfast Oatmeal (by the way, keep an eye out for new Bars and Bites flavors in March!). Companies like us need to innovate, or we die, and sometimes the drive for innovation has unintended consequences.

Unintended Consequences

About 10 months ago, we had the idea to introduce "topped" bars. We felt that adding a topping of toasted coconut, toasted almonds, roasted peanuts, or toasted oats to the bars would delight our customers with better texture, be more visually appealing, and would make the bars a more unique product in the marketplace.

Here's what they look like:  

We knew there could be some challenges with topped bars and that perhaps not everyone would like it.  To address that, we did some customer testing and received really positive feedback. We decided to move forward and introduced the new “topped” bars in two test markets in June 2018. Things were going well and we continued to scale up production to topping all bars in late November 2018. In December we began to see negative feedback trickling in.

Side note: we love feedback. Every single piece of feedback that we receive gets shared across the whole company...it's not always easy to read the negative stuff, but it makes us better, so thank you.

So what happened? It turns out that as we scaled up from limited production of topped bars to all topped bars, we had inconsistency in how much topping was on each bar and how well it stuck to the top of the bar. That inconsistency resulted in some bars being really messy, and you weren't shy about letting us know! A big part of eating a GFB is convenience and creating a mess was not cool. 

Here's what are we doing about it:

  • Improving the process of topping the bars to be more consistent so that the topping is better embedded in the bar - all the good things, but you aren’t left with a pile of coconut in your lap.

  • Reaching out both by email and phone to get personal feedback.

  • Introducing mini-bars (half-size bars that do not have topping).

We truly are working everyday to get better - we’ve made significant improvements so far, those will continue, and I will keep you updated. If you have experienced any product you are unhappy with, please let me know and we’ll make it right. Please feel free to email me directly at marshall@thegfb.com if you have any questions or comments.

Thank you!
Co-Founder and CEO