Sitting Down with Amy Andes: CEO and Founder of Banzo Butter and Enthuse Foundation Grant Winner

Aug 3, 2022

I am so excited to share with you the interview I had with Dr. Amy Andes. She is the female founder of Banzo Butter and holds a Ph.D. in food science and technology.

Amy also is the winner of the Inspiro Tequila sponsored Enthuse Foundation Professional Development Grant. The grant was awarded to provide a female founder with the resources necessary to join professional organizations or sign up for educational courses that are essential for growing a new business. 

In addition, as a grant winner, Amy also receives one-on-one mentoring with me. I find the mentoring piece so exciting since I really enjoy sharing my learnings with other female founders and providing feedback and guidance where I can. I’m sure the learnings will be mutual since I learn something new from every interaction.

Why Amy started Banzo Butter

I have a daughter who has severe tree nut allergies, so Amy’s nut-free alternative to nut butters intrigued me.

As a food scientist, Amy is trying to make changes from within the food industry itself. Amy started Banzo Butter as an opportunity to create and advocate for a more inclusive food industry for people with dietary restrictions, whether it is an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity. 

Banzo Butter is a garbanzo bean based butter that is free of the top 14 food allergens as well as gluten-free and vegan. This makes it a great alternative to traditional nut butters for people with food allergies or intolerances. Since I am gluten-free and lactose intolerant, I was excited about this new product option.

Amy started with an original flavor and then expanded to chocolate and strawberry flavors. Her hope is the newer flavors will attract consumers who may already eat nut butters but are looking for some variety to standard offerings. The strawberry Banzo Butter is a unique product on the market because it tastes like jam but has the texture of nut butter, and it is delicious!

Amy’s production journey

Banzo Butter started in Amy’s kitchen, where she first started working on various formulations. Eventually, after trying to find a production facility, Amy moved into a commercial kitchen so she could guarantee Banzo Butter products were free of the top 14 allergens.

She started selling directly to consumers and soon learned the 12-ounce jar was just too much product for first-time customers. So Amy pivoted and started selling 3-ounce sample jars that were a hit with her customers. Amy found many people who bought the sample set would return to buy the larger jars of Banzo Butter.

This openness to customer feedback and willingness to pivot exemplifies Amy’s growth mindset, which is a key to being a successful entrepreneur.  As a fellow female founder, I recognize that flexibility and the willingness to alter course based on customer feedback are essential to creating customer-centric products.

Funding has been Amy’s biggest challenge

Amy funded her journey by working dog sitting and babysitting jobs. The money Amy earned she poured into building Banzo Butter, and it allowed her to expand to a commercial kitchen. 

Women starting their own companies often need to rely on self-funding since finding outside funding is very difficult.  In 2021, only 2.1% of venture capital money went to female founders. There are a number of resources outside of venture capital money that are available.  Here are a few alternative ways to raise money:

  • Loans from women-focused banks like the First Women’s Bank
  • Crowdfunding platforms like IFundWomen, which also help build your brand awareness
  • Grants for female founders – subscribe to Hello Alice to keep up to date on grant opportunities

I am looking forward to working with Amy over the upcoming months, and I hope I can help guide her along the exciting yet daunting journey of building a business. My work with Amy and the Enthuse Foundation is a part of The Purple Bicycle Project to pay it forward and help other female founders. 

I have learned so much on my own journey, and I embrace the opportunity to share some of those learnings and insights with other female founders to help them save some time and avoid some pitfalls along the way.

To watch my entire interview with Dr. Amy Andes on Inspiro Tequila’s YouTube Channel, click here

You will also want to check out the other inspirational women I have been fortunate to interview.