Actor Noah Schnapp, who plays Will on Netflix’s hit original series Stranger Things, is passionate about tbh, a company he co-founded which aims to “reinvent” hazelnut cocoa spread Nutella.
And now, Schnapp is turning to investing platform Republic to give his fans, and the masses, an opportunity to invest in the company behind the Nutella alternative for as little as $50.
The actor helped start tbh one year ago and now works alongside co-founders and co-CEOs Elena Guberman and UMANA founder (and tbh investor) Ba Minuzzi with an earnest goal: to offer consumers a less sugary and overall healthier alternative to one of his favorite childhood snacks, Nutella.
Tbh, the company touts, contains 50% less sugar and 3x the protein – 6 grams of the pea variety – than its nostalgic counterpart. Also important, Schnapp says, is what it does not contain: palm oil, an edible vegetable oil that some argue is harmful to the environment. Along that vein, the company also partners with packaging companies that it says “mitigate their carbon footprint” to ensure that it is “mindful of the environment in the supply chain.” Tbh is slang for “to be honest,” which the company touts it is being with its cleaner offering.
One might wonder why Schnapp, with a reported $250,000 per episode salary in Stranger Things’s most recent season, would turn to crowdfunding to help fund the business when he could have just as easily bootstrapped or secured venture funding. By launching a crowdfund campaign for tbh, Schnapp told TechCrunch, he aims “to empower” a new generation of investors and help encourage them to learn about investing in the private sector.
For the unacquainted, Republic is a New York-based fintech company that opens up access to investing in private market equity, debt or crypto offerings through its retail platform.
“My fans are obviously super supportive and whenever I do anything with this campaign, we’ll share it like journaling,” Schnapp — who holds the title of Chief Snacking Officer — told TechCrunch. “They’re going to love it and support it and I think it’s a great educational opportunity for them – and for myself.”
The $50 minimum investment, believed to be the lowest ever had on the Republic platform, is designed to lower the barrier to investing, noted Guberman, tbh’s co-founder and co-CEO.
“Many of Noah’s fans are young; this is our way of sharing the upside and educating his audience about investing – instead of just providing a product,” she said. “We’re building a strong community.”
Schnapp agreed, telling TechCrunch in an interview: “The beauty of this low ceiling is that it kind of allows anyone to invest in tbh. It doesn’t exclude anyone based on their socioeconomic status or whatnot. And I think that’s beautiful.”
Depending on how much they invest, shareholders get access to a variety of perks.
For example, those who put in $50 get an invite to the annual tbh investor call. A limited number of those who pony up $550 get an invitation to the annual tbh investor call, 15% off tbh for life (including product and merch), “insights” into new tbh pre-launch products and a five-minute call with Schnapp himself. Shelling out $7,500 unsurprisingly translates into more perks, including dinner with tbh team and Schnapp in either NYC, LA, or Miami (travel not included).
Is the actor and his team hoping to capitalize on his popularity and influencer status? Undoubtedly. The 18-year-old has 27.5 million followers on Instagram and along with much of the show’s cast, became a sensation as Stranger Things took off in popularity – despite being rather gory – with both young people and adults alike.
A quick scouring of the internet reveals that the spread does have some quite favorable reviews with some describing it as “tasty” with a “smooth texture.” The biggest complaints were about its high price tag. You can buy a 14-ounce jar of the product on Amazon for $11.39. By contrast, a 13 oz. jar of Nutella sells for $3.74. Still, tbh, which is available online and in over 100 stores on the West Coast, generated $550,000 in revenue in its first 10 months. Tbh says it is “in conversations” with Whole Foods to put its spread on the retailer’s shelves.
The capital raise on Republic – which will be capped at $1.235 million – will go toward expanding the retail footprint of tbh’s existing products, releasing an on-the-go single serve packet and expanding its product line.
For Schnapp, tbh represents the beginning of what he hopes is a successful career outside of acting. The actor started studying entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business this fall and also recently joined Penn Undergraduate Capital Partners, a student-led venture organization.
“I could definitely see myself launching a venture capital fund in the next year,” Schnapp told TechCrunch. “And I think it’s very exciting just doing all of this. Like, I have my acting and I know what to expect there. But this is just a whole other world that I’m very excited about exploring.”
Interestingly, the concept for tbh was actually born a couple of years ago after Schnapp met Minuzza through her efforts to find celebrities who align with her mission of starting companies “with the mantra of doing good for the world and for consumers.” The pair came up with the idea of tbh since Schnapp loved Nutella and they wanted to create a healthier snack for people. Guberman was later brought in for her extensive CPG experience.