Written by: Karla Amador, Brian Pitts, and Hayley Brooks
Interview by: Karla Amador
When you’re dining out at a restaurant, have you ever wondered what happens to the grains left unused at the end of the day? While working behind the scenes in the food industry, Reyanne Mustafa got to see first-hand as, day after day, the kitchen’s trash receptacles were filled with perfectly untouched, edible food. With true entrepreneurial spirit, she saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it.
Her startup journey began with the tedious process of traveling to local restaurant kitchens and collecting the leftover grains each day. With her co-founder Kristian Krugman, she put together an initial plan to provide the food they gathered to the homeless. After some trial and error, they discovered that their process wasn’t going to work at scale, and immediately went searching for other options.
Reyanne started scouring the ingredients lists of nutrition bars under the inhospitable fluorescent lighting at her local grocery store chains, searching for the glimmer of a familiar name she recognized from the grains she had access to from her earlier venture. The next 5 months of her life were those of experimentation and market research, of interviewing protein bar consumers wherever they could find them. The result was something even more delicious than she set out to achieve: a cookie unlike any other on the market. That was how their company, SOUL MUCH, was founded.
When asked about the rewards and challenges of being the founder of SOUL MUCH, Reyanne mentioned that there is no playbook for this type of business, but the reward is beyond description, and she felt empowered by building a product from nothing more than an idea so many months before.
Since they are part of the going green initiative, their products are naturally sourced and do not have any shelf life exposure since they are not packaged. Her inspiration also draws from watching Youtube videos from around the world about what it truly means to go green. One video that gives her inspiration is that of a 14-year-old who is taking food waste and, through a series of processes, turning it into usable paint of various colors.
“I’m inspired by what these game-changers are doing in regards to food waste, sustainability for a healthy planet, and [am] happy to be a part of that solution,” she shares.
Her inspiration also draws from the followers of SOUL MUCH, who are advocates for raising awareness on the movement to go green.
When asked how she defines success, she mentioned her beliefs around finding purpose, building teams by empowering others, and making a difference on creating a sustainable future.
Looking ahead, SOUL MUCH plans to build an educational campaign around food waste, and to build a brand that can move the needle on reducing the overwhelming volume of food that is wasted each year.
She summarizes, “My hope is that we’ll [make an]…impact on every thought that goes into…consumer decisions.”
Her advice for those thinking about a startup idea is to ensure that the proper research is done before trying to launch a product, and to take time to track ideas in a format that will be useful later.
SOUL MUCH believes that San Diego is one of the best places for early stage startups due to the welcoming community groups and support resources provided by organizations around the county. As a hub of innovation, San Diego is constantly attracting the best talent, which helps companies like SOUL MUCH succeed in the long-term.
For more information on SOUL MUCH, stay connected on Instagram.
Interview by Karla Amador
Written by Brian Pitts and Karla Amador