Q&A: Founders of Yasso
From childhood friends to founders, Amanda Klane and Drew Harrington tell us how they started their Greek frozen yogurt company.
Amanda Klane and Drew Harrington have a lot in common. The Easton natives both have big families, played Division I sports in college, and pursued degrees in business management. Now, these childhood friends also share an increasingly popular frozen Greek yogurt company called Yasso.
According to Yasso representatives, and confirmed by their attorney, Yasso was the first ever frozen Greek yogurt bar to hit the market. The line, which launched in 2011, is made with all natural ingredients, is only 80 calories, and just a few years after its humble beginnings, it’s available at 14,000 retailers nationwide. We spoke with these young entrepreneurs about starting their company, going from childhood friends to business partners, and their love for Boston.
How did you first come up with the idea for Yasso?
Amanda: After I graduated from college, I started working for my dad doing sales for his food brokerage company. One of our clients was a Greek yogurt company. Greek yogurt had just recently come into the U.S. market, so I really saw the company grow. I also loved the product because I grew up playing sports and in a family really focused on having a healthy lifestyle, and most Greek yogurts are low to no fat, high in protein, and still taste great. I wanted to enter this market so I asked Drew, who I’ve known since kindergarten, to join me because of his background in business and marketing.
What was it like to start the company and bring the product to the market?
Drew: When we started, there were frozen yogurt bars, but no one had done Greek frozen yogurt bars yet. It then took us about 15 months to learn about the industry, the product, the supply chain, and create a recipe. We even went to a three day ice cream camp in Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun, but afterwards we knew we needed to hire a food chemist. We started in New England and then we went to other markets. They were all really excited; they saw what Greek yogurt was already doing, and our products sold well. It just expanded from there, but our success story really starts here in New England.
What is it like being business partners with one of your oldest friends?
Drew: Amanda and I met in kindergarten and we both grew up in Easton with big families, so we’ve really been best friends since we were young. When we went through all of challenges of starting a company it really helped that it was with someone I knew so well and could really trust. There’s a great sense of comfort to be able to go through all of that with someone you know you’ll be able to tackle any problem with. It feels like you can really work as a team. I also think that has created a great work environment for the company as a whole.
You both were Division 1 athletes in college, how has that influenced your work?
Amanda: I played soccer at Providence College, and Drew ran track at American University until he was injured and then transferred to Northeastern. It’s a lot of work to be an athlete, especially in college, and it’s helped us out in business a ton especially because everyone plays a role and every role is extremely important. We are also both really competitive and that really helps when you go into business. I think sports have a huge influence on how you operate and grow as a person, and when you play sports for so long that healthy lifestyle just becomes second nature to you.
What’s your favorite part about living in Boston?
Drew: I think its the huge sense of community, we both came from big families, and this city is full of awesome people and coworkers, and that’s what being from Boston is all about. We were born and raised here and now we get to give back by donating and raising money for local charities.