Denise Woodard, the founder of Partake Foods, a delicious and allergy-friendly snack brand, isn't afraid to take risks. When her daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies, Woodard left her steady paycheck and a nearly decade-long career at Coca-Cola to fill the void for safe snacks in the packaged food industry. With her desire to create safe snacks for her daughter, her experience in consumer packaged goods, and her wide network, there was just one thing standing in her way: capital. Despite Partake Foods gaining traction and securing local placement in Whole Food and Wegman stores, funds were tight early on. “In the beginning, I sold my engagement ring and drained my 401k,” Woodard shared in a recent article. “The possibilities with Partake made those sacrifices worthwhile.”
Fast-forward to 2021 and those possibilities have certainly panned out. Partake Foods is now stocked in nearly 3,000 stores, including retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, and Sprouts, and Woodard recently made headlines as the first Black woman to raise $1 million for a food startup. In fact, more than half of the $7.5 million she’s raised for her startup is from Black investors—including Marcy Venture Partners (the VC fund Jay-Z co-founded), Grammy Award-winning artist H.E.R., and Rihanna—and that’s intentional. “As a Black and Asian woman, it’s important to me that I am bringing profit to Black investors that are going to take the returns and successes and reinvest them into other Black founders to keep that money circulating and growing,” explains Woodard.
Denise Woodard's story is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks to achieve their dreams. Despite the initial difficulties, Woodard's determined mindset and her desire to create safe snacks for her daughter led her to success. Her story is a testament to the fact that with a good idea, hard work, and a willingness to take risks, one can achieve great things. Woodard's story is also an example of how a diverse group of investors can play a crucial role in the success of a startup. With the support of Black investors such as Marcy Venture Partners, H.E.R, and Rihanna, Woodard's business was able to achieve great success and also continue to support other Black founders.