Meet a Maker

Meet a Maker: Andrew Chi & Brad Armistead of Salivation Snackfoods

College pals turned business partners, learn the story behind this upstart snackfood company.

Meet a Maker: Andrew Chi & Brad Armistead of Salivation Snackfoods

You may have heard a thing or two about the keto diet. Centered around low carb (i.e. no sugar, no grains) and high fat (quality matters!) foods, going keto means giving up some of our favorite "comfort foods." Cake, cookies, bread, and... brownies. But thanks to Salivation Snackfoods, no longer do you need to sacrifice indulgence in the name of good health. These fudgy and chocolatey brownies are sinfully delicious, with 3g net carbs and zero gluten.

The duo behind Salivation, Andrew Chi and Brad Armistead, spoke with Foodboro about their background in marketing, their journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the CPG industry, how they manage work/life balance while growing a brand, and what they recommend for other early-stage food founders.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Before starting Salivation, what were you guys up to?

We’ve been close friends for over 20 years, and we even both worked together at Mattel for about a decade. So, we knew what we were getting into with one and other when we decided to partner on a brand of our own. Prior to Salivation, we both were in marketing roles across a variety of brands including Naked Juice, IZZE, POM Wonderful, Lavazza Coffee, Butterfinger, Westfield Properties, and Arclight Cinemas.

What led you to entrepreneurship? 

We had both just left our corporate marketing jobs, and we wanted to launch a food or beverage brand that would do some good. Our close friend, Dave, had been using the Keto diet to treat a serious health condition, but there just weren’t enough Keto packaged food options (especially ones that tasted any good), so sticking to the Keto diet was a challenge. So, we set out to answer the prayers of those seeking low carb, baked snacks that were also delicious. 

Why brownies? 

When we both tried out the keto diet, we realized that there were three things that we missed the most: bread, crunchy/salty snacks, and sweet baked goods. The later seemed to be the most accessible for aspiring entrepreneurs (who made no claims of being aspiring chefs). We chose to start with brownies, in particular, since they’re America’s favorite dessert, but that also meant that the bar was high and that we had to get the taste and texture perfect.


Retail relationships: do you sell mostly DTC? What retailers do you work with? 

We thought our sales would be mostly retail, but when we were ready to launch, we happened to find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. We had always planned on a DTC business, but we didn’t know that it would be our first and only channel in the beginning. We landed our first distributor in our home turf, SoCal, in late 2020 and that allowed us to get into Bristol Farms, Lassen’s, Clark’s, and a whole host of fine grocers. We’re also just now opening up New York with a distributor there and placement at Fairway Markets and Gourmet Garage.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Other Founders. The very first thing we did when starting out was to reach out to our friends and past colleagues who had launched their own brands. We offered to buy them lunch if they would share their stories and their advice with us. Not only did every person agree, but we got insights that would end up saving us countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars. We continue to learn from other entrepreneurs, and offer our experiences and contacts, through the Shopify for Startups program.

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

Magic Spoon, Siete, and Simple Mills because they all make great products that solve problems for those living Keto, Paleo and/or Grain-Free lifestyles, and who were missing out on their cereal, tortilla chips, and crackers because of their diets.

What sets you apart from other brands in the keto space?

With a little (okay, a lot) of help from a pastry chef and keto experts, we were able to create a line of brownies that were each 3g net carbs (for the whole freakin’ thing!) but that were also delicious. That’s the sweet spot (“ba dump bump”). Making something that is so low in net carbs that doesn’t spike blood glucose levels, while also making it taste like, well, the most delicious, packaged brownie you’ve ever tasted.

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? 

When you’re first starting out, it’s necessary to find partners who you can count on, even though you’re a small company without deep pockets. We learned this lesson the hard way when we worked with a manufacturer who cashed our checks but didn’t deliver the goods. More important than the wasted money, however, was the lost time. It set us back at least 6 months and put us in a terrible spot. We were debuting at the upcoming Metabolic Health Summit, and we needed to make a whole lot of brownies really fast. We were on such a tight timeline that we ended up arriving at the show 1 hour after it started with brownies in blank packaging. They were almost still warm! But thank goodness we made it, because it was at that summit that we were discovered by a Bristol Farms buyer!

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

When you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, there’s not much distinction between “work” (What do I do to put food on the table?) and “life” (What would I rather be doing?). That said, we both recognize the need to recharge. We make it a point to spend time with family, meditate, get outside, and get away from the computer whenever possible. It also helps that our families are a part of the business. From pitching in at trade shows to making samples to demoing in stores, our loved ones are always involved in some capacity.

Surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs wear many hats . . . actually, they wear ALL of the hats! Since no one can be great at everything, you have to admit to what you don’t know, not be afraid to ask, and surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table. 

Networking with other entrepreneurs is also invaluable. We can’t tell you how much we’ve learned from other entrepreneurs. They’ll save you tons of time and money — two things you never have enough of as a business owner.

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

We’re not so sure about the over-hyped part, but what we are certain of is that the “Better For You Snacks With Benefits” trend is here to stay. Consumers continue to want their snacks to taste great, but they also want their snacks to do more than just satisfy a craving. Which is why our brownies are boosted with collagen and MCT oil, so that, while you’re enjoying a delicious treat, you’re also getting added health benefits (shameless self-promotion!)

Another trend not going anywhere is sugar reduction. Now that brands are using natural, alternative sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, erythritol and allulose, consumers have come to expect that they can enjoy their favorite foods and beverages without compromising taste and without suffering the negative health effects of sugar.

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

The future looks bright! We need to find additional distributors across the country to open up new retail markets. We’ve got three new products in the works that will extend our reach beyond brownies. We’ve just started working with a PR agency, as well as doing Influencer seeding, both of which we wished that we had done sooner. We feel like we’re only just getting started cause there’s still so much more to do!

  • Follow Salivation Snackfoods on Instagram
  • Check out their website HERE

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

You may have heard a thing or two about the keto diet. Centered around low carb (i.e. no sugar, no grains) and high fat (quality matters!) foods, going keto means giving up some of our favorite "comfort foods." Cake, cookies, bread, and... brownies. But thanks to Salivation Snackfoods, no longer do you need to sacrifice indulgence in the name of good health. These fudgy and chocolatey brownies are sinfully delicious, with 3g net carbs and zero gluten.

The duo behind Salivation, Andrew Chi and Brad Armistead, spoke with Foodboro about their background in marketing, their journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the CPG industry, how they manage work/life balance while growing a brand, and what they recommend for other early-stage food founders.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Before starting Salivation, what were you guys up to?

We’ve been close friends for over 20 years, and we even both worked together at Mattel for about a decade. So, we knew what we were getting into with one and other when we decided to partner on a brand of our own. Prior to Salivation, we both were in marketing roles across a variety of brands including Naked Juice, IZZE, POM Wonderful, Lavazza Coffee, Butterfinger, Westfield Properties, and Arclight Cinemas.

What led you to entrepreneurship? 

We had both just left our corporate marketing jobs, and we wanted to launch a food or beverage brand that would do some good. Our close friend, Dave, had been using the Keto diet to treat a serious health condition, but there just weren’t enough Keto packaged food options (especially ones that tasted any good), so sticking to the Keto diet was a challenge. So, we set out to answer the prayers of those seeking low carb, baked snacks that were also delicious. 

Why brownies? 

When we both tried out the keto diet, we realized that there were three things that we missed the most: bread, crunchy/salty snacks, and sweet baked goods. The later seemed to be the most accessible for aspiring entrepreneurs (who made no claims of being aspiring chefs). We chose to start with brownies, in particular, since they’re America’s favorite dessert, but that also meant that the bar was high and that we had to get the taste and texture perfect.


Retail relationships: do you sell mostly DTC? What retailers do you work with? 

We thought our sales would be mostly retail, but when we were ready to launch, we happened to find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. We had always planned on a DTC business, but we didn’t know that it would be our first and only channel in the beginning. We landed our first distributor in our home turf, SoCal, in late 2020 and that allowed us to get into Bristol Farms, Lassen’s, Clark’s, and a whole host of fine grocers. We’re also just now opening up New York with a distributor there and placement at Fairway Markets and Gourmet Garage.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Other Founders. The very first thing we did when starting out was to reach out to our friends and past colleagues who had launched their own brands. We offered to buy them lunch if they would share their stories and their advice with us. Not only did every person agree, but we got insights that would end up saving us countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars. We continue to learn from other entrepreneurs, and offer our experiences and contacts, through the Shopify for Startups program.

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

Magic Spoon, Siete, and Simple Mills because they all make great products that solve problems for those living Keto, Paleo and/or Grain-Free lifestyles, and who were missing out on their cereal, tortilla chips, and crackers because of their diets.

What sets you apart from other brands in the keto space?

With a little (okay, a lot) of help from a pastry chef and keto experts, we were able to create a line of brownies that were each 3g net carbs (for the whole freakin’ thing!) but that were also delicious. That’s the sweet spot (“ba dump bump”). Making something that is so low in net carbs that doesn’t spike blood glucose levels, while also making it taste like, well, the most delicious, packaged brownie you’ve ever tasted.

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? 

When you’re first starting out, it’s necessary to find partners who you can count on, even though you’re a small company without deep pockets. We learned this lesson the hard way when we worked with a manufacturer who cashed our checks but didn’t deliver the goods. More important than the wasted money, however, was the lost time. It set us back at least 6 months and put us in a terrible spot. We were debuting at the upcoming Metabolic Health Summit, and we needed to make a whole lot of brownies really fast. We were on such a tight timeline that we ended up arriving at the show 1 hour after it started with brownies in blank packaging. They were almost still warm! But thank goodness we made it, because it was at that summit that we were discovered by a Bristol Farms buyer!

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

When you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, there’s not much distinction between “work” (What do I do to put food on the table?) and “life” (What would I rather be doing?). That said, we both recognize the need to recharge. We make it a point to spend time with family, meditate, get outside, and get away from the computer whenever possible. It also helps that our families are a part of the business. From pitching in at trade shows to making samples to demoing in stores, our loved ones are always involved in some capacity.

Surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs wear many hats . . . actually, they wear ALL of the hats! Since no one can be great at everything, you have to admit to what you don’t know, not be afraid to ask, and surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table. 

Networking with other entrepreneurs is also invaluable. We can’t tell you how much we’ve learned from other entrepreneurs. They’ll save you tons of time and money — two things you never have enough of as a business owner.

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

We’re not so sure about the over-hyped part, but what we are certain of is that the “Better For You Snacks With Benefits” trend is here to stay. Consumers continue to want their snacks to taste great, but they also want their snacks to do more than just satisfy a craving. Which is why our brownies are boosted with collagen and MCT oil, so that, while you’re enjoying a delicious treat, you’re also getting added health benefits (shameless self-promotion!)

Another trend not going anywhere is sugar reduction. Now that brands are using natural, alternative sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, erythritol and allulose, consumers have come to expect that they can enjoy their favorite foods and beverages without compromising taste and without suffering the negative health effects of sugar.

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

The future looks bright! We need to find additional distributors across the country to open up new retail markets. We’ve got three new products in the works that will extend our reach beyond brownies. We’ve just started working with a PR agency, as well as doing Influencer seeding, both of which we wished that we had done sooner. We feel like we’re only just getting started cause there’s still so much more to do!

  • Follow Salivation Snackfoods on Instagram
  • Check out their website HERE

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

You may have heard a thing or two about the keto diet. Centered around low carb (i.e. no sugar, no grains) and high fat (quality matters!) foods, going keto means giving up some of our favorite "comfort foods." Cake, cookies, bread, and... brownies. But thanks to Salivation Snackfoods, no longer do you need to sacrifice indulgence in the name of good health. These fudgy and chocolatey brownies are sinfully delicious, with 3g net carbs and zero gluten.

The duo behind Salivation, Andrew Chi and Brad Armistead, spoke with Foodboro about their background in marketing, their journey to entrepreneurship, the challenges of the CPG industry, how they manage work/life balance while growing a brand, and what they recommend for other early-stage food founders.

Want more maker interviews in your inbox? Check out our weekly newsletter!

Before starting Salivation, what were you guys up to?

We’ve been close friends for over 20 years, and we even both worked together at Mattel for about a decade. So, we knew what we were getting into with one and other when we decided to partner on a brand of our own. Prior to Salivation, we both were in marketing roles across a variety of brands including Naked Juice, IZZE, POM Wonderful, Lavazza Coffee, Butterfinger, Westfield Properties, and Arclight Cinemas.

What led you to entrepreneurship? 

We had both just left our corporate marketing jobs, and we wanted to launch a food or beverage brand that would do some good. Our close friend, Dave, had been using the Keto diet to treat a serious health condition, but there just weren’t enough Keto packaged food options (especially ones that tasted any good), so sticking to the Keto diet was a challenge. So, we set out to answer the prayers of those seeking low carb, baked snacks that were also delicious. 

Why brownies? 

When we both tried out the keto diet, we realized that there were three things that we missed the most: bread, crunchy/salty snacks, and sweet baked goods. The later seemed to be the most accessible for aspiring entrepreneurs (who made no claims of being aspiring chefs). We chose to start with brownies, in particular, since they’re America’s favorite dessert, but that also meant that the bar was high and that we had to get the taste and texture perfect.


Retail relationships: do you sell mostly DTC? What retailers do you work with? 

We thought our sales would be mostly retail, but when we were ready to launch, we happened to find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. We had always planned on a DTC business, but we didn’t know that it would be our first and only channel in the beginning. We landed our first distributor in our home turf, SoCal, in late 2020 and that allowed us to get into Bristol Farms, Lassen’s, Clark’s, and a whole host of fine grocers. We’re also just now opening up New York with a distributor there and placement at Fairway Markets and Gourmet Garage.

Who in the industry do you turn to for inspiration?

Other Founders. The very first thing we did when starting out was to reach out to our friends and past colleagues who had launched their own brands. We offered to buy them lunch if they would share their stories and their advice with us. Not only did every person agree, but we got insights that would end up saving us countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars. We continue to learn from other entrepreneurs, and offer our experiences and contacts, through the Shopify for Startups program.

Any other brands in the industry that you admire?

Magic Spoon, Siete, and Simple Mills because they all make great products that solve problems for those living Keto, Paleo and/or Grain-Free lifestyles, and who were missing out on their cereal, tortilla chips, and crackers because of their diets.

What sets you apart from other brands in the keto space?

With a little (okay, a lot) of help from a pastry chef and keto experts, we were able to create a line of brownies that were each 3g net carbs (for the whole freakin’ thing!) but that were also delicious. That’s the sweet spot (“ba dump bump”). Making something that is so low in net carbs that doesn’t spike blood glucose levels, while also making it taste like, well, the most delicious, packaged brownie you’ve ever tasted.

What have been the challenges of navigating the CPG industry? 

When you’re first starting out, it’s necessary to find partners who you can count on, even though you’re a small company without deep pockets. We learned this lesson the hard way when we worked with a manufacturer who cashed our checks but didn’t deliver the goods. More important than the wasted money, however, was the lost time. It set us back at least 6 months and put us in a terrible spot. We were debuting at the upcoming Metabolic Health Summit, and we needed to make a whole lot of brownies really fast. We were on such a tight timeline that we ended up arriving at the show 1 hour after it started with brownies in blank packaging. They were almost still warm! But thank goodness we made it, because it was at that summit that we were discovered by a Bristol Farms buyer!

As a founder, what do you do to take care of your health, "turn off" work?

When you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, there’s not much distinction between “work” (What do I do to put food on the table?) and “life” (What would I rather be doing?). That said, we both recognize the need to recharge. We make it a point to spend time with family, meditate, get outside, and get away from the computer whenever possible. It also helps that our families are a part of the business. From pitching in at trade shows to making samples to demoing in stores, our loved ones are always involved in some capacity.

Surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table


What advice do you have for early-stage entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs wear many hats . . . actually, they wear ALL of the hats! Since no one can be great at everything, you have to admit to what you don’t know, not be afraid to ask, and surround yourself with people and partners that complement what you bring to the table. 

Networking with other entrepreneurs is also invaluable. We can’t tell you how much we’ve learned from other entrepreneurs. They’ll save you tons of time and money — two things you never have enough of as a business owner.

What food and beverage trends are over-hyped and which are here to stay?

We’re not so sure about the over-hyped part, but what we are certain of is that the “Better For You Snacks With Benefits” trend is here to stay. Consumers continue to want their snacks to taste great, but they also want their snacks to do more than just satisfy a craving. Which is why our brownies are boosted with collagen and MCT oil, so that, while you’re enjoying a delicious treat, you’re also getting added health benefits (shameless self-promotion!)

Another trend not going anywhere is sugar reduction. Now that brands are using natural, alternative sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, erythritol and allulose, consumers have come to expect that they can enjoy their favorite foods and beverages without compromising taste and without suffering the negative health effects of sugar.

What does the future look like for the brand, what are you currently working on?

The future looks bright! We need to find additional distributors across the country to open up new retail markets. We’ve got three new products in the works that will extend our reach beyond brownies. We’ve just started working with a PR agency, as well as doing Influencer seeding, both of which we wished that we had done sooner. We feel like we’re only just getting started cause there’s still so much more to do!

  • Follow Salivation Snackfoods on Instagram
  • Check out their website HERE

Read more Meet a Maker interviews here!

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