Better bread: Lin Carson uses baking science to innovate and improve

Baking science offers huge market opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs at all levels in the trillion-dollar bread, bakery, and muffin industry.

BAKERpedia’s Lin Carson uses the fundamentals of food science to research and develop solutions to a multitude of problems. They deal with variables such as shelf life, texture, profitability, production, storage, packaging and sanitation. Each of these variables can be improved through baking science.

Early in her career, she was looking for information to improve a particular process. She just couldn’t find him. Eventually, she determined that much of the company’s information was stored in the heads of older workers. In general, she realized, people were unwilling to share information, especially with someone with a doctorate at the bottom of the seniority ladder.

“The best guy had the information in his head,” Carson said. “He wouldn’t share. He refused to share. In the early 2000s, there was still this mentality that knowledge is power and I had to stay in line.

His undergraduate degree in food science and technology from The Ohio State University, as well as his master’s and doctorate from Kansas State University, told him otherwise.

And his first experience as an entrepreneur offered a similar message.

Rising entrepreneur

“My first business was a bread cafe in Denver that failed miserably because I wasn’t doing the right things,” Carson said. “I learned so much from this trip. That’s why this time I’m succeeding on my journey. Experience.”

The process of developing a brand sparked her second entrepreneurial venture, BAKERpedia, an online resource focused on the science of baking.

Any national brand food brand starts life as a local name. Under the right conditions, it can develop into a regional brand before, in one way or another, becoming national. Carson cited his experience with Dave’s Killer Bread as an example of this transition.

“The journey sometimes requires a few generations, or a lot of equity capital,” Carson said. “With money, you can really evolve [the process] to have a good quality product and the ability to produce that good quality product 24/7 throughout your distribution. That’s a lot of moving parts. It’s a matter of money and brand.

“I believe startups innovate,” she continued. “Big companies, their job is to acquire and refine the processes of innovators. The big bakers who acquire these small brands are actually doing us a favor. They’re acquiring innovative starter brands and rejuvenating the pipeline.”

Carson predicts that this continued rejuvenation – using baking science to create opportunities for innovation – will give the consumer easier access to higher quality products sooner and at lower cost.

“For me, personally, paying $8.00 for a loaf of bread is too much,” Carson said. “And I don’t want the $1.00 a loaf stuff. I want good breads from $3.00 to $4.00. I’m about to do these [high-nutrition] large-scale affordable products. If people can’t afford it, they won’t buy it. If there is no demand, there will be no supply. »

Free information

Which brings us back to his second entrepreneurial adventure.

Carson created BAKERpedia in response to gatekeepers and information silos that she saw as an industry-wide problem. The site offers free technical and scientific information to wholesale and industrial bakers. Its goal is to reduce the overall cost of mass-producing quality baked goods.

BAKERpedia was officially launched in 2014, followed by three years of breakthrough attempts. The industry was extremely hesitant to recognize his business model. Will advertisers cover the cost of providing free information to producers? Likewise, the industry didn’t know what to make of Carson and all of her titles – Asian American, wife, mother, business owner, PhD.

“It was extremely difficult to get the word out,” Carson said. “It was an uphill battle.”

Relentlessly, Carson overcame misconceptions with a relentless use of social media, a constant schedule of promotion and awareness. His long-term goal? Balance the costs of a healthy, affordable loaf of bread (or similar baked goods).

“There was a lot of jostling,” Carson said, “just to break down barriers.”

Today, with more than two million page views per year, BAKERpedia has found its audience. He also found the necessary sponsors to circulate the information.

Growth tools

On coming out of the dark, Carson strongly recommends the use of social media by women. It offers almost limitless opportunities for advocacy and publicity. This can be especially important when starting a new business.

“The basic definition of an entrepreneur is a creator, an innovator, a maker who can build a business from their ideas,” Carson said. “Whether it’s profitable can be debatable. But, every entrepreneur knows how to run a business. It’s a scary thing to do and you’re not guaranteed to get a paycheck.

Social media introduced Carson to new technologies. It also helped establish the relationship opportunities that made him successful. She recommends paying close attention to technology as it applies to your landscape.

“Technology is changing rapidly,” she said. “Today’s SaaS applications and tools make the team building process easier. But, if you take away the technological tools, I believe the secret lies in the relationships [and] figure out how to build those relationships and figure out how to get those people to trust you – by delivering, of course. You must keep your promises. I think this is the basis of any business.

Entrepreneurial idea

Simply put, baking science creates opportunities for innovation. The next big thing is food biotechnology, understanding the physical and chemical properties of food components and the ability to use those properties in a mass production scenario.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” Carson said. “I think the biggest innovations and opportunities are in enzymes… understanding them and replicating them in a big vat. Not too many people are good at this.

“If you can develop an enzyme to kill mold in bread and if you can replicate it for the multi-trillion dollar bakery market, your future is set.”