How a local popcorn business grew into a multi-million dollar company

This local startup has really popped off.

Ginger Frank - Founder _. Co-CEO of Poppy.jpg

Ginger Frank, founder of Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, poses with her product.

Photo courtesy of Darby Communications

When Ginger Frank first launched her craft popcorn company back in 2014, it was a one-woman operation.

Fast forward almost ten years, and the company has secured a $3 million Series A funding round, employs more than 50 people, and distributes its product across the country.

“To come from [where we began] to where we are now… it’s like a really fitting classical American dream,” shares Frank. “I feel like I’m on the outside looking in ... just because it’s been so incredible.”

If you’ve ever tried a bag of Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, then you understand why it’s caught on like wildfire. The flavors, ranging from pimento cheese and cinnamon bourbon pecan to Cold Mountain beer, are innovative and addicting.

Ginger Frank and Meherwan Irani

Poppy regularly collaborates with local chefs like Meherwan Irani to create new flavors.

Photo provided

Frank isn’t afraid to experiment either, with off-the-wall, now discontinued flavors like spicy spirulina (a protein-packed, powdered algae popular in the health food community).

But what’s really propelled Poppy’s growth, says Frank, is Asheville’s tight-knit startup community, specifically the circle of female entrepreneurs she meets with on a monthly basis.

“When things come up, we’re able to reach out to each other, discuss things, be honest, know we have confidentiality, and get solid advice from each other,” she explains. “When we’re all successful, it makes us stronger.”

To that end, Poppy has brought in a new co-CEO, Susan Aplin, to help Frank lead the company’s next phase of growth. The biggest problem Aplin hopes to solve, with the help of the latest funding round, is capacity.

“Today our process is very manual and labor-intensive,” Aplin told AVL today. “Investing in $2 million worth of automation equipment will make the production process more seamless and efficient.”

Ultimately, these investments should increase production by at least six times, and Aplin says the team expects to double its workforce to 100+ employees over the next few years. Talk about a business that’s popping.

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