Building a big brand from mini heirloom kernels.
It all started in 2012, when Jen Martin found some tiny heirloom popcorn kernels at the Chicago health food store where she worked. She popped them up and discovered they had a crazy amount of flavor and crunch for such little kernels. She liked them so much she shared them with her brother Jeff Martin and sister-in-law Teresa Tsou, who quickly became as obsessed with heirloom corn as Jen. Together, they tracked down a farmer who grew the mini popcorn from his family’s heirloom seed stock and launched a new company, Pipcorn®.
With a little money and a lot of passion, they started selling mini popcorn in hand-stamped brown paper bags. Less than a year later, Oprah discovered it and named Pipcorn® one of her “Favorite Things.” Not long after Pipcorn appeared on Shark Tank and made a deal with Barbara Corcoran.
Seeing untapped potential in heirloom corn but understanding the challenge of building a multi-line business, Pipcorn teamed up with Factory. Soon Jen, Jeff, and Teresa were fixtures in the test kitchen, using heirloom corn to reimagine all their favorite salty snacks: cheese balls, corn dippers, crunchies and, using upcycled corn flour, bite-sized crackers. Within 18 months, Pipcorn®, the delicious mini popcorn, had evolved into Pipcorn Heirloom SnacksTM — a tastier, crunchier, better-for-everyone way to snack.