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Social media is ‘what’s going to keep people interested in food’: Giada De Laurentiis

Giadzy Founder and Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentiis sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the growth of her personal brand and e-commerce site, using social media to engage fans, being a female founder, and her food's supply chain.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

DAVE BRIGGS: Well, if inflation and airline chaos, both here and abroad, are keeping you close to home this summer, lifestyle and ecommerce platform Giadzy Pantry are giving you a taste of la dolce vita. I'm sure that didn't come out right, but I tried. Celebrity chef and entrepreneur Giada De Laurentiis is the founder of Giadzy and joins us now, as does Brooke DiPalma. Nice to see you both. Giada, wonderful to have you here. Tell us about Giadzy and what the goal is with the platform.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: Well, thanks-- first of all, thanks for having me. And this is something I've been cooking for about 20 years on television, and I've had restaurants now as primarily in Las Vegas. And at the end of the day, I've really been wanting to bring real, good, authentic, organic ingredients from Italy to the United States. And I think although we have some great suppliers and mom and pop shops around the country, it's been hard for people, I think, over especially over the pandemic to find really great ingredients.

And through all the years of being on television, the one thing that keeps coming back is that all of my fans want a place to buy these ingredients. And so that's what I've started here. And I started about a couple of years ago. And we are just growing and growing and growing. We've just grown over 200 SKUs now.

And we're going to grow over 500 by the end of the year, and really also telling stories about all of these phenomenal small purveyors around the country of Italy and how they've been making these ingredients and these products their whole lives, and telling these stories, bringing them to the United States, and being able to really enjoy authentic phenomenal Italian food right at home.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And it's been quite the year for Giadzy. This year alone, the company raised $1.4 million in VC funding. Quite the announcement coming from a team led by women. It's only a seven-person team. Walk us through that journey to get that funding.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: Well, we started with a team of three. And so the three of us together, with some help from some other fabulous whizzes in this business, helped us put a business plan together. And it took, mm, I'd say eight to nine months before we were ready to go to market and actually pitch this. And I've been lucky enough to be in business with two bigwigs in the VC world, especially in Los Angeles, Brian Lee from BAM and Derek Norton from Waterhouse.

And so it took quite a while for me to be ready to do this. It was a leap I wasn't sure I wanted to take. But I think that it was the only way for me to really grow this dream that I've had. And it's been a fun adventure to learn all about the entrepreneur business, which is completely different way of thinking than what I've been doing for 20 years. So I've learned a lot, and I'm hoping that it's a long, fabulous journey.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Yeah, and according to Harvard Kennedy School, the 30-year average of all female founders' share of VC funding is only 2.4%. And so with that said, I know you have mega partners in this space. But did you yourself face any obstacles putting yourself out there like this? And any advice to female founders who want to do the same?

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: Yeah, I think you would think that maybe because of my celebrity status in the food world that it'd be super easy to get funding. I don't think it is. And I think that the world in the VC world has changed dramatically in the last year. And so I think it's become very difficult. And yes, I think female-founded businesses are-- in this world are small.

I think that the first question out of most people's mouths was, do you really have time to do this? Because you do so many things, and you have-- you've got a child and all the rest. And I think that we just have to stick to our guns. And I think there's a wonderful community of female founders out there that I always say to people, if you're looking to do this, really tap into that female founder community because they really will help you sort of navigate the business.

And it's really a phenomenal community of people. Founders in general, but really, that female founder is really strong all over the country. And I think that's a number one way to get help and information and really band together to really conquer this and have more of us in the space.

DAVE BRIGGS: And the easiest way to get your message out there, Giadzy, of course, is social media. And you have been a presence in that regard, whether it's TikTok or Instagram or YouTube in particular. A lot of great videos with your daughter. If you could talk about the importance of being on TikTok and just producing content and establishing a brand and a company.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: It's-- I started doing social media years ago when it first started. And I remember people saying to me, like, why bother? I really enjoy the medium of the way that TikTok and Instagram Reels and all of the quick bites-- you know, I come from a world of longer form shows.

And the ability to kind of talk to people in real-time, which doesn't happen when you do these cooking shows because we do them so far out, and the ability to have that conversation in real-time and small tidbits of information, I think it's what's going to keep people interested in food, what's going to keep them cooking way past the pandemic, and what I think makes cooking and food and ingredients hip and cool, which means that everybody will want to know more about it. And then we'll become a healthier society as a whole.

So I actually think it's probably what I spend a lot of my days doing these days. And it is so much fun. I enjoy it. Thanks to my daughter, I got in it early. And it's a great way for us to bond as well.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And your website features so many local purveyors and producers from Italy, including items like these amaretti cookies I have right here. But with supply chain strain and higher prices overall, they do cost a bit higher than, say, going to your typical grocery store. So who's the audience that you're really looking for here? And what sort of demand do you hope to see?

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: Well, I think the demand is definitely there. I think that, yes, you know, I think prices, we're definitely in a little bit of a higher echelon. The ingredients that are used and the soil that they are grown in and the sustainability that these Italian purveyors go through, it does cost a little bit more. But at the end of the day, you don't need as much.

And I think that it's really important that we start to think about the ingredients that we're putting in our bodies and where they come from and how clean they might be. And that is sort of my main goal because Giadzy is also a wellness platform as well. We talk a lot about how these ingredients can benefit you.

For instance, the pasta, the type of flour that they use and how quickly they produce it and the batches that they produce and the way they cut the dried pasta and where it's coming from and the water and everything else is part of the health benefit of the pasta. And I think the whole point of it is, is that the ingredients matter. What things are made of really matters in the long-term. And so we have a really big appetite for it. And I think that's why Giadzy has grown 200% since last year. It's really phenomenal.

DAVE BRIGGS: And you have our appetites all cranked up. The stomachs are growling now, so we appreciate that. Some cocktails on Giadzy.com as well. Really appreciate you being here, Giada De Laurentiis, the founder of Giadzy. Great to have you.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: Thanks for having me, guys.