Brain Foods: nourishing mind and body with healthy snacks

Brain Foods is a plant-based food company from Bulgaria that aims to nourish the body and mind by developing healthy snacks. The startup was founded by Plamen Medarov and Mariya Veselinova, both of whom are part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is their story.

What does your startup do and what is your mission? 

Plamen: Brain Foods is a plant-based brand that produces healthy snacks, including low-sugar milk-chocolate wafers, chocolate bars, and wholegrain crackers.  Our main goal is to nourish the body and mind by making our favorite foods and drinks healthier and tastier. We are therefore in the development stage of snacks and drinks for focus, concentration, relaxation, and mental and emotional health. Eating something tasty should not cause any guilt. With Brain Foods,  that is now possible! 

Our mission is to be part of the global movement to help reduce the use of animals in the production of food and beverages and to stop animal exploitation in all aspects of food production. We seek to encourage a lifestyle that maximises health and wellness while minimising the ecological footprint we have on the world.

Where did the idea for your company come from? 

Mariya: As vegans and people working in the food industry, we are interested in creating special products for the vegan-food category. After deep research, we found a niche in brain snacking. That’s how we created Brain Foods. 

Tell us about your team. Why are you the right people for the project?

Mariya: We are a young family who made the choice to switch to a plant-based lifestyle four years ago due to ethical and health reasons. In that time, I’ve enjoyed a very active, healthy, and meaningful life, while being committed to plant-based eating. My background is in marketing, so I deal with marketing and administration tasks, including social media and communication, as well as advocating a plant-based lifestyle on my Instagram channel. 

Plamen Medarov is the CEO and the driving force who inspires the whole company to keep creating. He sets the main direction for product development, and is in charge of R&D, sales, finance, and company activism, with over 15 years of experience in the field. 

Brain Foods’ range of snacks: crackers, wafers, and chocolate bars with fillings

What are your favourite parts about building your business?

Plamen: We believe that the best part is the feeling of creating something unique, tasty, and healthy at the same time. The market has a gap for snacks with no sugar added and we found a way of filling this gap. 

We are also in the process of developing new recipes and products! As such, we are so excited and thankful that we managed to join the ProVeg Incubator – the hard work is paying off! We believe that the Incubator will help us take the business to the next level. We also like working with distribution and marketing a lot.  

What have been the main challenges you’ve faced? 

Plamen: For us, achieving fast distribution around Europe was one of the main challenges. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there weren’t any events or food fairs. Also, some European distributors had limited capacity in terms of taking on new products and the workers in retail who select new products were working from home. All of these factors contributed to the challenge of entering the European market. 

What makes your company unique? 

Mariya: We have created one of the world’s first sugar-free plant-based wafer-and-chocolate bars with the real taste of milk chocolate. We are dedicated to the vegan cause and want to create innovative products that are tasty but also healthy. That will be a crucial focus for our team.

Brain Foods’ wafer propaganda

Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator? 

Plamen: We are two people who are very devoted to the vegan cause. Therefore, we want to do our best to improve our skills and be successful in the business field. 

For us, the ProVeg Incubator is the best plant-based business programme in the world. We are so excited. To be part of an incubator is a dream come true! As vegans, to be  together with people who believe in the same cause is very inspiring. 

All the expertise the incubator has, as well as the connections with other startups and investors, are things that every startup should look for. There are so many benefits in participating in the ProVeg Incubator! For example, connecting with potential strategic partners, industry experts, and getting in touch with new ideas and innovations.

In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful? 

Mariya: For us, the most important factor is the product, then the team, the strategy and the execution. However, it’s also great to have mentors and strategic partners.  

What do you hope to achieve with your company in the next 12 months?

Mariya: We hope to successfully complete the ProVeg Incubator programme, continue to increase our product portfolio, increase our point of sales, and double our turnover. We also want to get involved in business activism and are exploring options for doing that.

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