Portland Company Adds Jobs by Rethinking Beans

City: Portland, OR

Keith Kullberg was a successful software entrepreneur before he decided to turn a favorite family recipe for vegan refried beans into his latest business venture in 2009.

Building off a recipe he first discovered as a college student visiting Mexico 30 years ago, Kullberg ditched the lard, chose to use red beans instead of pintos and threw in fresh Pepperoncini juice. The results: five different types of pre-cooked, all natural, vegan, gluten-free gourmet beans.

Kullberg's company calls it "rethought beans" as he strives to offer consumers a third alternative to pre-cooked canned beans or dried beans. Currently, their five products consist of Rethought Red Beans, Cuban Black Beans, Uncanny Refried Black Beans, Wholly Chipotle Bean Dip and Three Sisters Chili. Better Beans are currently sold in 120 natural grocery stores in four states including New Seasons, Whole Foods and Wegmans along the East Coast.

In the summer of 2012, Business Oregon provided the company a $50,000 loan from the Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) to help it grow from three employees to an estimated 20 or more by the end of 2013.

The company's products were just reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, declaring them to be one of the top 10 Superbowl snacks. The Expo West Natural Foods Trade Show, the nation's largest tradeshow for natural foods, voted their line as one of the 15 best new vegan products of the year.