Repurposed Pod: This is Their Story

1.    Summarize your business in one sentence. 

Repurposed Pod hopes to disrupt the cocoa industry through new cacao crop innovations, advancing cacao agriculture and adding value back to the supply chain.

2. How long have you been in business? 

We started Repurposed Pod in October of 2014. We launched our first product (100% Cacao Juice) 2 years later October 2016.

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3. Why did you decide to start the company?

We have always been in the cocoa industry and spent many years trekking across the beautiful cacao farms. Traditionally, the farmers will hand pick a cacao pod off the tree, crack it open and you pop the cocoa beans in your mouth to taste the sweet fruit pulp which surrounds the bitter beans. It’s always been a highlight to our days on the farm. Some of this sweet fruit pulp is used in the fermentation step of the cocoa harvesting process. However, the rest is simply wasted. We realized we could bring to life this beautiful fruit to the U.S. market and by utilizing this wasted  sweet fruit, we could bring additional value to the cacao supply chain, and provide premiums to the farmers through increasing land utility. It was one of those magical “ah, ha” moments we will never forget..

4. What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

By reinventing the cacao crop’s 3,000 year old post harvest process. Repurposed Pod had the opportunity to provide a new perspective on “the fruit that brings you chocolate.” No longer is Cacao only the crop of cocoa beans, it is also the crop of cacao fruit juice.

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5. How do you measure success?

We measure success against our mission of advancing cacao agriculture and improving the livelihoods of cacao farming families. This is the ultimate success.

6. What have you learned in the process? 

Starting your own business is ONE BIG learning curve. In the beginning you wear every hat, you learn every role (even roles you may not excel in or roles your not comfortable with).

7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?

As you navigate the rough waters of a start up remember your mission You embarked on this journey for a purpose, a purpose to help make the world a better place. Remember your purpose and stay true to your mission every step of the way. Let it guide your decisions, let it lift you up when you reach obstacles (because you will!) and allow yourself to celebrate the successes along the way  (big and small).

View More: http://char-co.pass.us/repurpose-pod-jpegs

8. What’s next? 

We are constantly innovating and brewing new ideas. Let’s just say Cacao Juice is only the beginning for Repurposed Pod.

9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

I love to cook healthy foods Monday I made this Thai Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce, it was amazing!!! You use peeled carrot as the noodles and sun butter for the “peanut sauce”.  

Kayla Weidner, founder of Repurposed Pod

This is their story

1. Summarize your project/business in one sentence.

Wonky is a new juice brand that lives by the motto ‘give wonky fruit a chance’. We aim to be the most sustainable juice brand in Europe.

2. How long have you been in business/running your project?

It has been almost two years now, since we became entrepreneurs. Wonky Drinks start-up idea was developed by the University of South Wales students, along with co-founders Karina Sudenyte and Maciek Kacprzyk.

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3. Why did you decide to start the company/project?

Maciek had huge interest in business since he was fifteen. His business ventures started from stock trading, these were the first steps when he began developing business skills. However, throughout his educational development he decided to follow a career in Law instead.

Now, after accomplishing my studies, I ditched my law career for a healthy food start-up called Wonky Drinks, with absolutely no regret. I am passionate about the food industry and positive causes for the environment. Of course, starting your own business as an entrepreneur is a lifestyle change. It is hard work, requires a lot of commitment and learning, but what is really important is that I converted my passions into my own business and met a second co-founder, Karina, with whom I linked over a great love for food, who helps to revive my ideas.

P.S. “She is a geek of sustainability! We both enjoy and are proud to be young entrepreneurs”. – Maciek Kacprzyk (Co-founder of Wonky)

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4. What has been your biggest achievement so far?

The first breakthrough occurred during our samplings at the Universities, where we managed to outsell Innocent drinks 11 to 1 at USW, and Bensons juices 8 to 1 in the BS managed canteens. These great results validated that our idea was not at all impossible! It gave us confidence and courage to believe in our concept and pursue impossible goals.

5. How do you measure success?

I consider all obstacles as positive challenge for improvement and success. Any business, sooner or later, is confronted with all kinds of problems, but it is natural, just like in life! A famous philosopher once said: “The man who has no more problems to solve, is out of the game.” This phrase should help you mentally in the approach to solving business problems with courage and give you a positive perception to succeed in your business venture.

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7. What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the _(retail)_ industry/get involved in _(entrepeneurial)_ work & start a _(company)_?

Believing in your idea is extremely important when you start your own business. Are you ready to have your own business? It is important to take into consideration every difficulty that is associated when becoming a new entrepreneur. You must be ready to devote yourself to the work, face new challenges and simply live the idea and breathe it – if so, then this is when you are ready to go.

8. What’s next?

Our key challenge at the moment is to convince at least 2 medium sized distributors that it is smart idea to give Wonky a chance. What is more our aim is to introduce Wonky drinks to 200 catering venues within two years time. Currently we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £13,000. Our mission is to raise some funding to save 300 tones of wonky produce by April 2017, by implementing and making small bottled wonkies!

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9. Anything else you want to add?

If you like to give Wonky a chance, then click here to support this project. For more information visit www.wonkydrinks.co.uk or say hello at hello@wonkydrinks.co.uk

10. Fun question: What was the best meal you ate this week? 

We spent our lunch last week at the Tiny Leaf London – organic, zerowaste, vegetarian restaurant. Our choice was Tartine du Jour – it was a large slice of toasted bread covered with roasted tomato, pepper and courgette. Classic flavour combination and simply delicious!

The path to success is hilly

AT_-_Franconia_RidgeFor as long as I remember, I’ve always wanted to be a successful person. I imagined success to be the moment in my life where I had everything I wanted. A job that pays me good money from the brilliant ideas I think up, friends dispersed around the globe, and love that enriches me on a daily basis.

At 25, I’ve realized that ‘success’ is not a destination, it’s actually a very crooked and hilly path. It takes you up and down, through caves and steep ledges. Many times you curse it and wonder why you ever embarked on it. But when you stop the mind from seeing all the road ahead or nostalgically looking at the past, and move your sight to what’s around, you realize that being here is worth more than on the valley down below.

You understand that everyday is a challenge. Some of the challenges break you. They strain your muscles, leave you with fractured bones and a heavy mind. Other days are easier. They reveal you beautiful sights, fill you with warm happy feelings, and show you amazing individuals walking up the path. Some are walking slower, so you can catch up to them and energize them. Some are walking faster, and can share some tips to encourage you to keep on moving. And a rare few decide to walk right next to you, figuring that good company is what makes such hikes worthwhile.

5218485382_67445c75d6_zThe journey is difficult, not only because of the road. There are many factors involved in life’s hike. The weather, the load you are carrying, the food that serves as sustenance, and most importantly ‘your attitude’. The thoughts you have are by far the most revealing factor of whether you’ll be able to follow the path to success or put up camp, never seeing what’s ahead.

In the past months I’ve found that it’s difficult to run up the trail and reach the top quickly. I also found that doing so won’t actually give me much satisfaction. Another thing I’m paying more attention to is the load I pile on myself. I always knew there was a difference between working hard and working smart, but it took me a while to learn what that difference was.

The reason I decided to write a more personal post is because I know social entrepreneurs and young professionals who are working hard to make a difference. They are loaded with tasks, and many times don’t receive necessary recognition or compensation. To those who are working hard, thank you for all that you do! But please, don’t forget to take care of yourself. For without you, change won’t happen.

Success is not a destination, it is a path, a hike, a marathon, and whatever it is you can imagine doing for long-distance. In my next post I will outline 5 tips to help you stay energized and vitalized as you continue to fight for your beliefs, focus on your passion and tirelessly work to make this a better world.

Stay strong and determined, but don’t forget to take breaks.

With much love and appreciation,
Hokuma

What I learned during Ramadan

Eid Mubarak.ramadan.feast.food.saynotofoodwaste.happy.healthy.share.sustainable.arab.muslim.islam.love.2Dear Friend,

Today is Eid al-Fitr, a special holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and fasting for Muslims around the wold. For the next three days, Muslims will show unity, give food and money to people in need, and share meals with friends and family. Being born in Azerbaijan, a country located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I was exposed to diversity from a young age. Starting with religion and ending with architecture, diversity is what makes my country and myself unique.

So this year, I decided that I will follow my countrymen and fast during Ramadan. Going without food and water seemed daunting and almost impossible. The first days were tough. I had to rearrange my daily schedule and hear my body protest the changes by growling and leaving me weak. These mental and physical adjustments also included significant decreases in exercise and increases in meditation. In some ways I felt that I was cheating, especially when I thought of all the individuals who worked in labor intensive environments and couldn’t adjust their jobs, (especially if they didn’t live in a Muslim country). I also thought of people living in northern countries where sunlight can last for more than 20 hours a day!

Not being able to eat throughout the day meant that I had an increased appreciation towards food, and knew what it felt like to be hungry. But, unlike the one billion people faced with hunger, I knew when my next meal would come and that eased my mind.  I also began to celebrate the work Say No To Food Waste does of redistributing food to those in need, realizing that whether big or small I was helping make a difference in the lives of people. And this thought helped rekindle my love and commitment to this weekend activity.

The month of Ramadan helps people develop their will power, patience and control over their needs/desires. It focuses on commitment, kindness and hard work, which are valuable skills in our daily lives. Especially the lives of entrepreneurs who must stay dedicated to their work, overcome hardships and face new challenges.

I am proud of myself for embarking on this journey. It pushed my limits, showed me my hidden strengths and encouraged me to continue working on the above mentioned abilities. What about you? When was the last time you tried something new, pushed your limits and dedicated yourself to a difficult challenge. If it’s been a while, why not change this? I leave you with this inspiring quote: “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

So how about it? Do you dare to push your limits?
Let me know if you do.

Much love and happy holiday!
Hokuma