This content is the fifth installment of an interview series with the 2020 Target Incubator cohort. Participating companies are sharing, in their own words, details on what inspired the creation of their companies and how they are all working to change the world for the better. All interviews have been conducted by the Target Incubator (TI) Program Management team.
Founders: Reyanne Mustafa, Co-Founder and CEO & Kristian Krugman, Co-Founder and COO
TI: When meeting someone new, how do you explain what SOULMUCH does?
Reyanne: SOULMUCH is on a mission to reduce food waste. We upcycle excess rice and juice pulp restaurants have as extra and repurpose into delicious vegan, gluten free cookies. We do this by dehydrating the rice, milling it into a flour, and baking into the cookies along with all–natural ingredients. On the surface we are a cookie company, but our morals are rooting in reallocating nutritious food into the hands of our consumers.
TI: What inspired you to start SOULMUCH?
Kristian: SOULMUCH was started because we were two waitresses who were frustrated witnessing SO much nutritious food going to waste each night at the restaurant we worked at. We looked around and asked why no one else was stopping this from happening. When we could no longer turn a blind eye, we finally came to realize if not us, then who? Since then, we set out on a mission to put an end to restaurant food waste and find innovative solutions to such a solvable problem.
TI: What impact do you hope SOULMUCH has on the world?
Reyanne: On the surface, yes, we are selling cookies, however our mission is SOULMUCH greater than that. We hope to inspire others that working on environmental issues don’t need to be so complicated and we all play a role in collective action. Our true impact goes far beyond just the food we rescue. We see this food waste issue as an opportunity to do well by doing good. We hope our story creates a ripple effect, exciting others that they too can create positive change.
TI: What has surprised you about yourself as SOULMUCH has grown?
Reyanne: I used to think businesses were created by natural born business leaders. I had this idea that the people running successful companies naturally are gifted at just knowing how to do it. As I’ve been navigating this entrepreneurial journey personally, I realized that entrepreneurship is something that one grows into, not born into. It takes failing, persistence, and a deep soul burning passion.
TI: How did you learn about Target Incubator and what encouraged you to pursue the opportunity?
Kristian: We were happy to see previous year, Kaitlin Mogentale Founder of Pulp Pantry, participant in the Target Incubator via her social media and loved seeing her journey through the incubator. Seeing the amazing advances she made in her business was inspiring and we knew that we too could truly benefit from the program. As SOULMUCH was expanding into the next phase of the business, we began to experience startup growing pains. Knowing we needed mentorship in several departments of our business, we know the target accelerator was the perfect fit.
TI: As a founder, how are you functioning today that is different than how you were functioning 6 months ago? What keeps you motivated?
Reyanne: Pre-COVID times seem like ages ago. Since COVID we’ve been forced to focus all our revenue channels online compared to before where we had diversified our streams via retail, farmers markets, catering, and wholesale. We also saw the demand for flour in the beginning of quarantine and launched our 100% Upcycled brown rice and quinoa flour. These changes have allowed us to think more creatively while identifying what customers are looking for.
TI: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are navigating the impact of COVID-19 to their business?
Kristian: It’s truly hard to be giving advice in these uncertain times when, in all honesty, we are seeking advice ourselves. However, one thing that we would advise is ensuring you build a solid online following / presence. Use this time to truly engage with your customers and establish relationships with your followers on social media etc. Of course, this will help when trying to sell your product and service online, but these people will be your most loyal customers long after this COVID situation has passed. Use this time to create meaningful relationships.