Tania Green would always get “horrible PMS symptoms.” Living in the North End, she often turned to the various neighborhood bakeries to satisfy her cravings for “thick, dense, moist baked goods like a brownie or a rich indulgent chocolate cake.” She found, however, that during the time that she experienced PMS symptoms, that she “was not making the right food decisions.”
Tania was journaling frequently and soon noticed that many of her worst days were when she was afflicted with PMS symptoms. Soon after, she “started to research foods that might satisfy intense cravings but would not spike blood sugar levels and cause weight gain.” After doing some preliminary research, she began crafting healthy, indulgent, chocolatey, and nutty snacks. “I would make these bites ahead of time and reach for them when cravings hit” she added.
It didn’t take long for people to notice. “Friends and family were like ‘These are really good!’ and wanted to try them” she said, adding “I [thought] ‘Oh, well maybe I could turn this into a small little business.’” The “stars aligned” when, in December 2015, she was laid off from her company. Speaking about that time, Tania mentioned that she “didn’t like what [she] was doing anyway, so it was the perfect timing to actually launch the Kickstarter.”
Within 15 hours of launching the crowdfunding campaign, PMS Bites was a Kickstarter Staff Pick. The whole experience exceeded her expectations. “I raised past my goal within 15 hours and got over 30 media placements in really good publications like Allure, Huffington Post, and Food&Wine” said Tania.
She then applied to the MassChallenge startup competition, which accepted her. “I got a great network and good mentors from there” she says, adding later that her biggest takeaway from MassChallenge was the “credibility and validity” that it brought to her business. For Tania, it allowed her to say: “Hey, not only do I have a cool product that I started from scratch that’s made by women for women, but I also have MassChallenge’s stamp of approval.”
Speaking about her time at MassChallenge, Tania mentioned that an important aspect of the experience was networking. “You’re only as good as your network so [make] sure you get to know as many people as possible. Get to know what they’re doing, what they’re excited about [...] you never know who they know, right?”
Not too long after, Tania found herself standing on a set, pitching PMS Bites to an audience of seasoned investors. “Shark Tank was something on my bucket list” she said. The experience was grueling. “I would wake up in the morning, my feet would hit the ground, [and] I’d say my pitch. I’d jump into the shower, I’d say my pitch. I’d have breakfast, I’d pitch. I’m talking nonstop.” Ultimately, however, it was worth it. “Sales spiked significantly during Shark Tank. I think people were curious as to what it was.” Not only that, however, but it brought her other investors as well.
Customer reaction to PMS Bites, meanwhile, has been positive. “People have said to me ‘They make me feel so much better! Bloating’s reduced.’ I have anecdotal stories where people feel great. That’s my distinguishing factor from every other food snack.” Indeed, PMS bites is no ordinary snack.
Musing about a short lived attempt to create a spinoff brand called ‘Everything Bites’, Tania says: “I loved the logo, but I was like ‘I have no desire to do this. Absolutely none.’ The only reason why I thought about expanding was to satisfy other people and make them happy and I’ve decided I’m not doing that.” For her, “It’s not a food product. It’s my mission that’s important.”
Thinking about the future, she says “I learned that it’s not a mass market product. And it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day the people that do have a mass market product, there’s a million others [and] they’re all looking for retail space.” There’s nothing wrong with a ‘niche’ product, “so why not have it be a small fulfilling business and target the right people and the right audience?”
As our interview draws to a close, I asked about the future. “Boston’s so near and dear to my heart," she says, adding "I want them to be in every cool store in Boston.” For Tania, PMS Bites isn’t about a food product taking over shelf space, however. “It’s a nod to women, right? It’s saying ‘Hey, listen, I understand what you’re going through each month. Here’s a great snack to make it a bit better.’”
Interested to try it out? Head over to pmsbites.com to order some for yourself or as a gift! Make sure to follow Tania on Twitter at @PMSBites, and keep an eye on this blog for more stories about awesome food entrepreneurs!