in Food, Invest Like the Best podcast, jobs to be done, Patrick O'Shaughnessy

A Personal Story on Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD)

You probably know what a JTBD done is, reader. So no need for me to regurgitate that for you. If you don’t, read this.

I was (re)listening to one of favourite podcasts again (Invest Like the Best by Patrick O’Shaughnessy) and the interviewee was talking about how his private equity firm invested in this consumer company and brand that has now become the fast growing CPG product. It was this episode and the guest was Ryan Caldbeck.

Not being an ice cream connoisseur (mainly because I’m lactose intolerant), I’ve only vaguely heard of this brand. For many of you out there this might be something you already eat every week. The ice cream is Halo Top.

Caldbeck went on to describe how they found this business early to invest in (using quant strategies), how they evolved to tweet their strategies learned from other CPG brands to grow Halo Top to the top. As Caldbeck was describing and while he didn’t use the words, “jobs-to-be-done”, he effectively was describing that.

Let’s see how Halo Top describes themselves to new and existing scoopers:

We’ll keep it simple – we love ice cream. You love ice cream too. We decided to make and craft it so we could enjoy ice cream as a regular part of our diets at just 280-360 calories per pint. Then we noticed it tasted delicious and decided to sell our ice cream. Then we named it Halo Top Creamery. Now, we can’t wait for you to pick up a pint and dig in! Wait, did we miss any steps there?’s landing page

It seems rather simple but what Halo Top clued into was that people wanted to eat ice cream. People love ice cream but didn’t want the guilt, the strong sugar-rush or feeling like they need to “leave room for” ice cream while eating less of the main courses. To be honest the exact reasons are unimportant but Halo Top clued into this and delivered what was and is effectively a job-to-be-done: enjoy ice cream and eat as much as I want to. Fast forward to today and I think Caldbeck says they sell more pints of ice cream than Ben and Jerry’s. Seem rather obvious in retrospect.

My own example is another one in the CPG space. For Valentine’s day, my partner bought me some gummy bears. We are both on the keto-diet currently and if you know anything about that, you know that gummy bears are the last thing you want to eat on this diet. But he discovered this brand while in the candy-for-diabetes aisle.

Typically sugarless candy or sugarless anything means it’s some kind of alcohol sugar or aspartame or something like that. If you haven’t been there before, let me describe. One evening on the way back from a class in university, I mistakenly purchased a bag of these candies. When I got home, I pounded back the entire bag. What proceeded was immense pain in my abdomen. That was me learning that the top ingredient was maltitol and that was when I learned that having too much all at once gives the person extreme and painful flatulence.

If that story isn’t clear, let me bring it back to what my job-to-be-done is. I love candies, but in particular I have an affinity for the sour and gummy variety. So when my partner brought home sour gummies, I was thrilled!

The weeks since then, I’ve come to learn that this brand that hails from Vancouver, Canada, had listened to their customers, sour-gummy-bear-fanatics in particular, to create a sour gummy bear that doesn’t have real sugars nor sugars-substitutes that are highly questionable nor sugars that give you extreme flatulence if you eat the whole bag. I mean … I know some people that refrain from eating a whole bag of chips or a whole bag of junk-whatever in one sitting but those people just have unnatural self- control, right?

Here’s Smart Sweets and this is their mantra:


We love candy too. But we don’t love all the sugar, weird artificial colors, and high calories in traditional sweets.  

Our pinky swear to you is no added sugar, no sugar alcohols and no artificial sweeteners. 

You deserve to feel GOOD about candy. landing page

Every bag only contains 3g of sugar — a whole bag! It’s also high in fibre, no artificial anything and low in carbs.

So that is my story — I want to eat candy, I want to eat sour candies and I want to eat the whole bag (or at least when I do, I won’t feel super guilty or have a head rush). Smart Sweets did it and they did it be tuning into what people wanted their job-to-be-done is.

Probably Smart Sweets copied Halo Top, but boy were they smart to do so.

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