Interview With Margaret Wishingrad
Describe your product or service:
“High-protein, low-sugar cereal that tastes deliciously nostalgic.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Three Wishes was founded with children in mind and developed to give adults what they crave as well. The brand hinges on three important pillars:
- Being delicious
- Being created by a family for children of all ages
- Healthy ingredients
Created to give our first child a healthier, convenient breakfast option, Three Wishes was perfected through the eyes of a child, offering the familiar taste and feel of a classic cereal with next-level nutrition.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“Under 10! Three Wishes is a scrappy startup operating out of our home.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“I wanted to teach my son, Ellis, the pincer grasp, but none of the cereals on the shelf were both kid-friendly and nutritious. I knew I had to create my own, so I went out and did it.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Three Wishes is a play on our last name, Wishingrad. Before our second son, Jonah was born, it was just the three Wishes — Margaret, Ian, and Ellis.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I’ve always loved food and healthy eating – and when it comes to work, I’ve always liked having control and operating. As soon as I realized I could combine these interests and strengths to create my own better-for-you food brand and run it well, I just knew I had to do it.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Covid! I launched Three Wishes just before the pandemic broke out and was stunned when retail was suddenly at a standstill. Instead of holding out for easier times, I turned my u-shaped driveway into a drive-thru sampling station, made national news for the innovation, and had our biggest sales day yet.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“I’m the target. I created a product to solve a problem I faced in my own home – and who knows me better than myself? As a mom, I knew what I wanted my dream cereal to taste like, cost, and accomplish. As a mom, I was looking for something better and I knew I wasn’t the only one. At the end of the day, our target market would ideally be everyone, but going after the gatekeeper millennial mom (ie. going after myself) has really served us well.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Our marketing starts without any proactive marketing budget at the beginning of the year outside of a retained agency. Zero paid social, zero planned activations. We engage with reactive budgets only, actually.
My husband, who is also the CMO, strategizes by aggressively searching for the next big cultural conversation and finds organic fits to join. For example, when the NIL rule was lifted for college athletes last year, we were the first brand to create an ad campaign with Syracuse player, Buddy Boeheim. The partnership gained us a tremendous amount of national press and attention.
Also, our biggest conversion tool is just getting people to try our cereal. They try it, they like it, and we get a new customer. That’s really been our biggest contributor to growth.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We shared it with our friends and family, who shared it with their friends and family, who shared it with their friends and family. Our best advice is to pump your product into your own network first, and then lots and lots of sampling.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Profitability comes first with a bootstrapped business.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“To be completely honest, I haven’t had the time to read startup books or listen to any podcasts on business since I started running my own!”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Miley or Cardi B for all the bad B energy.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Dropbox and iPhone notes.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“The glory! I’m so caught up in the weeds of running my business, day to day, that it truly shocks me every time I take a step back and look at what I’ve created.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“For me, there’s no such thing. If you put your attention on one thing, then you’re not putting it somewhere else. Since I haven’t found a way to create more hours in the day, I’m just doing the best with what I’ve got.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“I quit the idea of a day job long, long ago – I’ve been pursuing entrepreneurial ventures since before I graduated college. But if you’re asking yourself if it’s time to quit and focus on your startup, it is.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“My first job was working for my family in their office, which quite literally taught me the value and beauty of working with family (shout out to my husband and co-founder, Ian)”
More on Three Wishes
Margaret Wishingrad, founder of food startup Three Wishes, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.
Margaret Wishingrad, CEO and co-founder of Three Wishes Cereal (and a mother), came up with a solution: grain-free, high-protein cereals that parents can feel good about serving to their kids.