Innovator Insights: Founder of Bitten, Naz Riahi @nazriahi @thisisbitten
Name: Naz Riahi
Title: Founder of Bitten
Twitter: @nazriahi @thisisbitten
When it comes to the intersection of marketing and branding and innovation and food, there is Bitten, founded by Naz Riahi. Bitten is: a) a marketing firm grounded in culture, technology and trends and b) a series of conversations about disruption and innovation in the food space. Bitten works with clients in all industries applying deep cultural knowledge along with millennial and Gen Z expertise to create meaningful experiences and build successful brands. Bitten also hosts a series of events that explore innovation and disruption within the food space. Naz is also a member of Dreamers // Doers, a highly curated community of high-achieving trailblazing women who come together to support each other on their entrepreneurial paths. The community encompasses a diverse mix of female founders, women working at startups, and other female creators, change-makers, and influencers.
Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?
Naz: I’m an entrepreneur because I believe I can have a positive impact on the world through my business in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I worked for someone else. I have the vision and the drive and the passion and I’m willing to take risks and suffer through scary circumstances and immeasurable challenges to build something of my own, to have an impact and to make a difference.
Me: What problem would you like solved?
Naz: I would love to live in a world that is gender equal. Business is one area in which there is such tremendous disparity in the division of power between men and women. According to a McKinsey study, if we continue at our current rate, it will take over a 100 years for women to achieve equality. I feel that a 100 days is too long. Let alone another century. We are half the population and as such we should have half the power and half the say.
Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?
Naz: I wish I had known that there is never a good time to start a business. This is something I’ve been told (and many women often hear) about having children. My business is my baby and I was never going to have gone on enough vacations, saved enough money in the bank or been stable and secure and ready enough. There is no perfect time. There is just now. I wish I had known that sooner.
Me: What does success look like for you?
Naz: Success for me, when it comes to business is two things.
Am I enjoying what I’m doing?
Am I making the world a better place?
There may never be a cap on how big I want my business to be and how many people I want to employ and how much revenue and how much valuation etc. But none of that matters if I’m not happy with what I’m doing.
And what is the point of any success if not to change the world for the better.
Me: Who are your heroes?
Naz: I admire so many incredible women who have been brave and achieved so much in their lifetime. I’ll list only three and spare you the novel.
Hillary Clinton, for being immeasurably strong and intelligent and for not taking any shit (I have a ton of Hillary 2016 swag); Joan Didion for observing life and writing simply and truly about it; and of course, my mother who has taught me more than she’ll ever know.
Me: What is your best discovery?
Naz: Unlike most dogs, mine usually doesn’t get super excited when I get home. He’s just sleeping on the couch and barely looks up.
But I recently discovered that he will get super excited if I get super excited when I come home. So now, getting home and walking through the door is always a happy occasion full of gleeful shrieks and high pitched hellos and tail wags and kisses.
Me: What would the title of your biography be?
Naz: Just Delusional Enough to Make It Work.
Me: What is your biggest regret?
Naz: That I didn’t start my business sooner. I often wonder where I would be now if I had been bolder in business in my 20s. That said, because I didn’t go out on my own until recently, I had the opportunity to learn from some incredibly talented people in advertising and marketing on the agency and brand side, which has helped make me a great marketer.
Me: Anything else we should know about?
Naz: Bitten just wrapped up its second annual conference in NYC. The event was attended by nearly 400 people and received 7.4MM impressions. In the upcoming year, Bitten is working with several brands to create disruptive and creative food experiences and to continue the conversation in unexpected ways.
And, you can read about us and how we founded Bitten in Refinery29 at www.refinery29.com/bitten-food-conference