Deb shared her story of being an entrepreneur starting in food enabled by technology, challenges she faced along the way, and some advice based on her learnings building Herb n Zest.
Advice to other entrepreneurs
Her advice to other entrepreneurs, “Talk to as many people as possible about your idea. Share the passion that got you started in the first place. Flush out the idea and ask for help. Find partners, advocates and customers even before you launch.”
Deb is a food lover and business person with a quest for the new and the different. And as a parent, she is particularly committed to using cooking as a healthier eating option which is why she launched Herb ‘n Zest, a unique line of cooking products.
Their mission is to help more people make amazing food at home that fits their lifestyle and diet with little effort. They do this by offering ready to use sauces and condiments, easy recipes and community partnerships to support cooking education.
How do you cook?
Working long weeks made it hard for her to have the time or energy to make something from scratch. Being health conscious made meal delivery and frozen foods a non-option and committing to complex meal kits was just too much. “All I want to do is whip up something quick and interesting with ingredients that I already have in my fridge and pantry.
Frustrated by the options available to me, I launched Herb ‘n Zest. Our melting pot of flavors like curry pumpkin cooking sauce and apple champagne mustard zest up simple dishes quickly. All our flavors are gluten-free, dairy-free and low salt and low sugar to allow for healthier options.
They can be stored in the pantry and are ready-to-use as dips or spreads or cook with.”
Through a unique launch, Deb started a food-lovers meetup group in New Jersey. She took 25 people from the group to attend a cooking class at Whole Foods.
After class, she shared her condiment idea: “adding flavor without the junk” with the chef instructor. A few weeks later, Deb was tasting the first prototype product.
After a few months of refining and development, they scaled up the recipe, got insurance and made their first sale to the local Whole Foods store.
Deb’s passion for food comes from growing up in India and strengthened through travels. “As an entrepreneur it’s vital to get out of your element and experience something new, that’s how new things are born.
Food brings people together
Food brings together people like nothing else does and I love the experience of food and the stories and memories that are created around the table when one is enjoying and sharing food with family and friends.
Many people do not have more than a ½ hour to spend in the kitchen during weekdays. I want to make it easier for home cooks to make amazing food based on their need so they spend less time in the kitchen and have more fun at the table.”
Deb discussed how being a female entrepreneur worked to her advantage in building a business in the consumer space and how fundraising went for her. “Now is best time in history for women to access and create opportunities as entrepreneurs, as business women and as moms.
Technology has enabled us to have flexibility to launch, customize content, publicize and stay in touch more than ever before.”
Wearing different hats, from product development and business development to sales, marketing, operations, financing and recruiting, I now understand what it takes to apply those skill-sets to any consumer startup.
A woman in consumer goods
Being a woman in consumer goods gives us an unique lens as well. 85% of consumer decisions are made by women. And women are better at selling through storytelling which is why women do exceptionally well on Kickstarter.
I’ve never let statistics affect the decision to do something. I was 1 out of 5 people at a start-up New York hedge fund and was the only woman when it grew to 15 people. I was 1 of 3 moms during my Wharton MBA out of my class of 800 students.”