MP spoke with Actual Veggies’ founders, Hailey Swartz and Jason Rosenbaum, about their unique veggie burgers, entrepreneurship, and more. Uniquely positioned in the veggie burger space, they’ve built their business since launching during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thick Cut Actual Burgers
Photo courtesy of Actual Burgers

What are Actual Veggies and how did you pick this name?

Actual Veggies are chef-crafted quarter-pound, thick-cut patties filled with wholesome, veggie-only ingredients that give the patties their vibrant, natural colors. There are no fillers or preservatives, only fresh vibrant, colorful veggies and ingredients you can actually see and pronounce.

We picked the name as an answer to the plant-based movement. While there are many plant-based products available that allow people to consume less meat, or eliminate it, most are overly processed and filled with artificial flavors and colors. We are going back to the basics and providing consumers with products that are whole foods and veggie only - just actual veggies

Actual Burgers on buns
Photo courtesy of Actual Burgers

What makes your burgers unique?  

Unlike other plant-based burgers in the market, Actual Veggies' burgers are not trying to replicate the taste of meat, they're letting the natural flavors and nutritional value of real, actual vegetables and legumes speak for themselves. Our burgers are gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegan, Kosher, and Non-GMO Certified. While they ship frozen, they are merchandised in the refrigerated section.

How did the idea for Actual Veggies come about?

Co-founder Jason Rosenbaum stopped eating meat for health reasons in December 2019. He went to the grocery store to find a replacement for his favorite food, burgers. While there, he noticed that there were only two options: plant-based burgers made to try and taste like meat and old-school veggie burgers, which are flat, bland, not filling. There was a white space for the chef-crafted veggie burger like the ones you can find in restaurants and that’s where the idea for Actual Veggies began. 

What obstacles did you face as entrepreneurs while creating Actual Veggies and how have you overcome them?

We started this business right when the pandemic hit, so we quickly had to learn how to build the business while everything was virtual. We have learned a lot during the pandemic and feel it worked in our favor, but like any new company, we anticipate encountering more hurdles along the way. 

Early on, during our first big order, our packaging machine broke down. We called every factory in the area and surrounding areas to see if anyone had one we could use. We found one in the eleventh hour and paid a premium to truck our burgers over and run a night shift to pack the order of 50,000 trays. 

What three questions do you think entrepreneurs should ask themselves before starting a new venture and why?

Are you passionate about the idea or are you just doing it to make money? You have to believe in your product and want it for yourself.

Who do I want on my team? None of us can imagine doing this alone, while there are a lot of ups, there are even more downs and at the time we rely on each other to problem solve and push each other to find a solution.

Is there a market fit for this venture? Be honest with yourself and do the research. Be willing to listen to the research and pivot as needed. 

Entrepreneurship can be a difficult journey. How can entrepreneurs stay focused on moving forward and making progress when things get difficult?

Once again, we find it imperative to have accountability and trustworthy teammates who are all in it together. Additionally, keeping a project plan aligned to a strategy that you review weekly and are open to adjusting as needed.

If you could give entrepreneurs three pieces of advice, what would they be and why?

While everyone has an opinion and they are good to listen to, at the end of the day this is your business, and you are in the driver’s seat. 

Surround yourself with experts when you can, but most importantly, surround yourself with people you enjoy working with.

Know when to say no. Don’t compromise your plan or vision for every opportunity that comes your way. 

Cover photo courtesy of Actual Veggies.

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