Let’s get the new month rolling with a new Behind the Biz interview. This series will introduce you to new and exciting brands, passionate founders and the best business stories.
In today’s interview I’m chatting with Jumana Kapadia, the founder of Lotus Bites. Lotus Bites are roasted lotus seeds which are seasoned with 100% natural ingredients to make them crunchy and delicious.
Where did the inspiration for Lotus Bites come from?
The inspiration comes from my mum and the countless memories of her exquisite culinary skills. Her recipes recognised that great tastes and nutritional depth can happily co-exist side by side and that you are fundamentally what you eat.
Unfortunately my mother passed away in 2016 so we’re keen that this health-conscious proposition is established a fitting legacy to her healthy, tasty cuisine.
I’m also keen to showcase ingredients of proud Asian descent, albeit presenting them with an approachable Western twist to ensure they radiate mainstream appeal.
How did you decide upon the name of your brand?
This was one of my easier decisions as puffed lotus seeds are very much the hero of my foodie adventure.
Lotus seeds are an unashamed ‘super food,’ a lynchpin of traditional Chinese & Ayurveda medicine. Brimming with nutritional worth, Lotus seeds are often referred to as ‘God’s food’ in Indian culture, a high-flyer in terms of its ‘Food Completeness Score’ a revered source of Iron, Phosphorous, Fibre, Protein, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Iron, Calcium, Zinc and other beneficial antioxidants.
What did you do prior to Lotus Bites?
Like so many of today’s new generation of food entrepreneurs I’m someone who works in the City, whilst seeking a better work/life balance. It was during my time running a travelling educational theatre company for children that I fully appreciated the frenzied madness that is everyday life and the importance of family time. The premature death of my mother in2016 convinced me to marry my mum’s exquisite culinary skills and love of food and create something genuinely good for busy people and families alike!
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
It was always a pathway I’d mulled over, however the untimely departure of my mum provided the extra impetus to celebrate both her life and culinary outlook with a positive foodie agenda that provides a tasty, low calorie range of intense-flavoured snacks that appeal to time-poor, health conscious nibblers of all ages.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Initial reactions have been very positive indeed, but I suppose one pitfall we need to avoid is being typecast as a ‘next generation’ popcorn. I’ve no issue with popcorn which has had a fantastic run positioning itself as an affable, versatile snack. And yet, corn lacks the nutritional pedigree and wealth of lotus seeds.
I was also adamant from Day one that my treats would contain no artificial nasties in addition to being gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian friendly.
I also wanted full-bodied flavour profiles with real wow, flavours with respected beneficial health reputations in their own right: turmeric, beetroot, pineapple…..
What role does social media play for your business and what’s your favourite social platform?
I’m a strong advocate of social media and it will play a pivotal role in our brand journey, since it provides a frenetic platform where start-ups like myself can go toe-to-toe with more established/more heavily financed peers.
You can tell from our fledgling website www.lotusbites.co.uk that will be the focal point for our social media expeditions, that there’s ‘real’ ambition to utilise these fast-moving platforms. I already suspect that Twitter will be pivotal when it comes to forging both consumer and trade partner relationships.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
You must truly believe in what you’re seeking to achieve! Spotting a gap in the marketplace is one thing but you need the courage of your convictions especially during the tough times. You also need a tight huddle of mentors (friends and family) whose ears you can bend and whose wisdom is on tap 24/7.
Where do you hope to take your business in 2018?
It’s all about fostering mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded partners. Exhibition season is upon us and I see so many opportunities for my tasty, nutritious nibbles to prosper: healthy vending and leisure centres, independent health food wholesalers, food halls and farm shops, garden centres and delis, food service, airlines and let’s not overlook the more foodie supermarkets.
Thank you so much to Jumana for getting involved with Behind the Biz. I’ve really enjoyed learning about her business journey and I can’t wait to try Lotus Bites. I think Jumana offers important advice for entrepreneurs. It’s so important to have supportive friends, family and mentors around you throughout your business journey.
I can’t wait to see Lotus Bites grow throughout the year ahead.