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Jon Sebastiani’s Journey: From Winemaking to Snack Innovator

Jon Sebastiani’s Journey: From Winemaking to Snack Innovator

"Snack Innovator"

Jon Sebastiani, stemming from a family rooted in winemaking, carved his own path toward entrepreneurial success. “Growing up in Sonoma…it became crucial for me to forge my own path,” stated Sebastiani. His determination to establish a legacy outside his family’s winemaking heritage fueled his ventures in the snack industry.

In 2009, Sebastiani launched ‘Krave’, a gourmet beef-jerky business inspired by his local hometown butcher shop’s meat products. Rising during the popularity of the paleo diet, Krave offered options that were tastier and easily digestible. In 2015, he sold Krave to the globally-recognized chocolate maker, Hershey for an impressive $240 million.

Beyond monetary success, Krave revolutionized the snack industry, prompting Sebastiani to replicate its success with his next venture. Being exposed to gourmet marshmallows in Paris, he saw potential in this confectionery genre. Thus, he began to explore the possibilities, aiming to create a unique marshmallow product that upheld its appeal to snack lovers, from champagne-flavored cubes to chocolate caramel swirls.

The snack innovator concept evolved into ‘Smashmallow’

With this invention, Sebastiani hoped to innovate the snack market by utilizing organic and natural ingredients to create healthier, less regrettable, and luxurious treats. “Despite people saying it’s too good to be true, Smashmallow has proven to redefine the specialty snack market,” shared Sebastiani.

However, the pandemic created hurdles in maintaining Smashmallow’s market dominance. Supply chain disruptions and changes in purchasing behavior due to health concerns slowed down Smashmallow’s growth. Additionally, reticence from stores to stock new products constituted a challenge in expansion attempts. Yet, Smashmallow continues to strive, hopeful of reclaiming its pre-pandemic glory.

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Sebastiani’s approach mirroring the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship model brought significant progress and disappointments. Regardless, it formed part of the journey of making marshmallows, a delicately sweet treat from mixing sugar with gelatin or egg whites and boiling, a metaphor for his entrepreneurial journey.

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