McLean, Virginia, entrepreneur Myles Powell has grown his line of frozen, “clean” mac and cheese — 8 Myles Mac N’ Cheese — from a handful of stores to more than 1,200 retail locations, including retailers like Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, Balducci’s, and Target.
Powell has raised more than $650,000 to date through angel investors, venture capital investors, and from small investors through crowd-investing platform Honeycomb Credit.
Powell grew up in a food-loving family that spent a lot of time around the dining room table. Family favorites were always comfort food — collard greens, fried chicken and mac and cheese. While studying engineering, he started a food blog in 2012. That caught the attention of the Food Network after he applied to be on a new Food Network show, “America’s Best Cook,” in 2013. That did not go well.
“Mind you, I had been cooking for just a couple of years,” Powell said. “I was still a rookie. The result was not great. I had to make duck, which I’d never cooked before. I got the boot on the first episode, but I came home from the show and knew at that moment that I wanted to be involved in food for the rest of my life.”
8 Myles Mac N’ Cheese is clean, meaning no additives, but it is still mac and cheese.
“It’s not healthy. I think a healthy mac and cheese is an oxymoron. But it is clean in terms of all the ingredients being recognizable,” he said.
It is also lower in sodium and calories compared to other frozen brands.
8 Myles is currently sold in three versions — Homestyle, Buffalo Mac and BBQ Mac N’ Cheese, all made with gourmet cheeses. It also comes with a premium price, about $7.
“That’s the price tag associated with the real product. Frozen is typically plagued by additives, and fillers, and growth hormones that are replacing real ingredients, which is why you see things on the shelf for three bucks,” said Powell.
Powell, who lives with his fiancé and her eight-year-old daughter, is closing out his most recent round of fundraising this year, and moving on to the next phase for his company’s expansion, investing in new production equipment and a sales and marketing staff.
“Consumer packaged goods is our foot in the door,” he said. “As we expand through additional retailers throughout the country, we’re also going to make a line of comfort food available through food service entities like hospitals, universities, and stadiums. We really want to showcase premium, clean comfort food in as many places as possible.”