The 5 CPG Books For New Founders

The 5 CPG Books For New Founders

There are many many many books on CPG, many books on being a founder, and even some that are about BOTH. I read them all... for better and for worse... sigh. Here are the five that were gamechangers for me.

Ramping Your Brand: How to Ride the Killer CPG Growth Curve, By James F. Richardson PhD

Oh... you have a strategy for growing your fledgling CPG brand? That's adorable. Throw it out the window, read this book and reconsider. James Richardson has years of experience in the space and he talks about the tried and true model of riding the skate ramp. Along the way, he gets into the nitty gritty on trade spend, promos, omnichannel, buyer meetings... everything. EVERYTHING.

If you haven't worked in CPG before, start here. If you HAVE worked in CPG before, test your knowledge. I can't recommend this book enough.

High-Hanging Fruit: Build Something Great by Going Where No One Else Will, by Mark Rampolla

This is an unsentimental look at what it's like to start a beverage brand. I was considering launching Ruby in the fall of 2020, until I read the data point (in this book) that historically beverage sales drop 30% in fall / winter (in a good year). That's just ONE of the helpful tidbits I got from this book, along with distributor negotiations and the good, the bad and the ugly of acquisitions.

Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently--and Succeeding, by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebluff

Alright, this one might be a bit more of a sentimental take on starting a beverage brand, if for no other reason it's a graphic novel (which I love). But this book does take you from the start of Honest Tea through to the acquisition by Coca Cola. Goldman and Nalebluff lead their brand with purpose and integrity. They had a clear why and that north star helped them tackle their market. It's a phenomenal read, and lots of fun.

The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket, by Benjamin Lorr

This is a tough one, but you have to read this book if you're thinking about starting a brand. This isn't the good the bad and the ugly, this is the bad and the ugly. And it's important for you to hear. It talks about grocery buyers getting inbounds from 80 brands on a daily basis. On the amount of money it takes for new brands to survive. On the work you need to put in, day after day on the store level, stocking shelves. And that's just one chapter... this is an important book.

High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups From 10 to 10,000 People, by Elad Gil

This book isn't specific to CPG, but it takes you into the fundamentals of building a company. How to incorporate. How to raise. When to start a board. It gives you the tools and answers a lot of the questions most founders are too afraid to ask for fear of looking stupid. Now go forth and conquer.

Others I recommend...

Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business by Lynda Resnick

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek recommended by Zach Cohen, Ruby's Director of Operations.