Italian Entrepreneur Livio Bisterzo Finds Success with Chickpea Snacks

Italian Entrepreneur Livio Bisterzo
Italian Entrepreneur Livio Bisterzo

As good nutrition and healthy eating attract interest among consumers, investors find opportunities to profit from the American taste for salty snack items. HIPPEAS, a chickpea puff brand in the United States, has received encouragement from Leonardo DiCaprio through his association with Strand Equity Partners. The co-founder and CEO of HIPPEAS, Livio Bisterzo, expressed his satisfaction with support for its products by DiCaprio and the growth equity fund. The investment brings “on board“ partners whose values and vision match ours, he said, as he invited them to share the journey to success.The Hollywood actor has shown support for other health-related food and drinks such as Runa, a tea and energy drink brand. As a supporter of environmental issues, DiCaprio confirmed his commitment by directing all profits from his investment to the communities of indigenous people in the Amazon who farm the tea crop.

His investment in the chickpea snack food product gives him a minority stake in the maker of HIPPEAS, Green Park Brands, where Livio is also the founder. The healthy vegan snack food contains no gluten, and health-conscious snackers can find it on Amazon as well as 20,000 other outlets that include Whole Foods, Starbucks and Albertson’s in the United States and the United Kingdom. Acceptance of the product by Target and Kroger stores by the end of 2017 assures him of its continuing and expanding popularity.

Introducing the Product

As an experienced executive and innovative leader, Livio Bisterzo started selling his product in retail stores soon after the brand entered the market. Public acceptance of his healthy snack food as a product that “tastes good” and “does good” indicates a promising future. Bisterzo chose interesting names for the chickpea puffs that come in six flavors. Shoppers can find HIPPEAS with hot and spicy hints in “Pepper Power” and “Siracha Sunrise” or with milder taste accents in “Vegan White Cheddar” and “Maple Haze.” The product line includes “Happenin’ Hickory” and “Far Out Fajita” as names that Bisterzo believes are helping sales. Revenue in 2016 of $2.5 million points to sales of $11 million in 2017, according to his projections.

Benefiting from Experience

Bisterzo credits his knowledge of the retail market for the rapid acceptance of HIPPEAS. Before focusing his energies on the snack line, he launched a company that sold teas and another enterprise that offered men’s grooming products. From the standpoint of a successful marketer, he had confidence in the viability of his healthy snack food. A feature of HIPPEAS that may make it a favorite of health-conscious consumers is the ingredients that include fiber and protein. Recognizing the controversial use of Genetically Modified Organisms, he does not include them in any of the HIPPEAS flavors. By avoiding the objectionable contents of some snack items, Livio Bisterzo’s product carries an organic certification and is kosher and gluten-free as well. High on the list of qualities that Bisterzo insists on is the tastiness of the snack.

Following a Visionary Leader

Bisterzo’s product incorporates some of the central themes that matter to his well-informed customer base. He shares their concerns for world hunger, health and the environment as well as the use of organic and sustainable products. With the return of a portion of each sale to Farm Africa, he helps ensure an escape from poverty for farmers in the rural areas of East Africa.

By leading with ideas that matter to his potential consumer base, Livio Bisterzo hopes to tap into the estimated $1 billion market for snacks that incorporate healthy alternative ingredients. Researcher Norman Deschamps estimates that sales of products containing chickpeas increased by more than 150 percent in 2016. The investment by DiCaprio and Strand Equity Partners, while of an unknown amount, contributes to the $2.5 million that Bisterzo has raised to launch his Green Park Snacks line of chickpea products.

The managing partner of Strand Equity, Seth Rodsky, describes the product as a high growth brand that has achieved a highly unusual amount of traction in the market in a brief period. He expressed eagerness to partner with Bisterzo and the “talented team” that he assembled at HIPPEAS. He anticipates the partnership to lead the way to create a movement toward snacks that are “better for you.”

Understanding a Motivated Millennial

Forbes reports that chickpeas are good for the earth as well as for human consumption. With a determination to create a health food that had the potential to “shake up” the salty snack segment of the market, Bisterzo was confident of establishing HIPPEAS as “a premium yet affordable” concept with the potential to launch globally and experience fast growth. As a member of the millennial generation, he enjoys seeing a way to make cultural changes that improve the world for everyone.

Livio Bisterzo studied at the University of the Arts in London, leaving his home in Milan and his working-class background. He admits to experiencing “culture shock” by moving from Italy to England for his university training, but it helped him understand concepts that explain the reasons for businesses’ success or failure.

Settling in America

Now living in Los Angeles, the Italian entrepreneur created his first venture at age 22 in 2003 by founding an events business. Evidence of his success appears in the pages of magazines like GQ, Vanity Fair, Harpers, and Esquire that quote him. In 2016, he moved his family to the United States, the same year that saw the founding of his Green Park Holdings. His approach to business as an exceptional marketer targets other millennials who reflect the concerns for the earth that characterized the hippie generation. With his family of three children settled in Los Angeles, he can focus on marketing his brand by expanding the number of outlets that carry his tasty and healthy salty snack.

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