A Conversation with Robb Caseria from Videka
Robb Caseria is the Managing Director of Videka Solutions, LLC.
Videka has called Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine’s Innovation Center home since it began in July 2019. Recently Robb sat down with Madelyn Pinder, the Innovation Center’s Business Services Manager, to answer some questions about Videka.
Let’s start with an easy question, Robb. What does Videka do?
“Videka Solutions LLC sells natural food protection solutions into the pet food industry and other related channels. Our products help keep pet food safe (reducing oxidation, eliminating bacteria); help keep pet food tasting fresh (eliminating staleness and extending shelf-life attributes); and help keep pet food looking great (keeping color and texture for longer). We pride ourselves on our customization for numerous applications and our innovative solutions (just as many as the #1 competitive gorilla in the industry).”
What excites you most about what your company does?
“I like what Videka – and its direct competitors – do for our customers. We help make pet food better and we ensure that it is safe for consumption. We are on the front end of eliminating recalls. Pet parents and pet food manufacturers rely on us to keep their pets (your pets) safe and healthy.I like what position Videka plays in our industry. We are a challenger, and we keep things competitive and honest. Our largest competitor is almost 100 times our size and yet we have as large of an innovative portfolio which entices many of the leading companies it in the industry to be our customers (like Mars, Nestle, Darling, Blue Buffalo, and more).”
What is your background? How did you become interested in what you’re doing now?
“I’ve been in CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry my entire 30-something year career. After two long stints at PepsiCo and Coors (marketing, sales, operations, procurement, international general management), where I started and led 4 different joint ventures, I moved to more entrepreneurial settings where I led Castor & Pollux Organix Petfood (sold to Nestle) as CEO and started Natural Food Works, as co-founder and CEO. From there, it was natural (pardon the pun) that I joinVideka, as I bring CPG, general mgmt., pet food, international, and a variety of business experience to our opportunity here.”
If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
“I’d invite Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird to dinner and challenge them to a 2-on-2 basketball game, with the losing team buying dessert and drinks afterwards.”
What do you find most challenging about leading a start-up company?
“With a startup, there’s never enough cash. This is what keeps me up at night. Besides that, our biggest challenge as a company is penetrating large customers who are used to working with other big suppliers, as we often get asked – “can you really supply what we need?”
What is the most rewarding aspect about being an entrepreneur?
“It has often been said that the downside of being an entrepreneur is that you are always poor, and you are always somewhere in the process of raising money. The most rewarding aspect is taking something from nothing and making it real. Videka now has 50 customers, sales in 3 continents, and nearly $10 million in annual sales, all in just about 4 years.”