Startup Feature: Pulp Pantry

Want to know what it takes to build a successful startup? The Blackstone Launchpad’s startup feature series showcases USC’s most accomplished startups and their innovative founders.


Pulp Pantry

Interview with CEO Kaitlin Mogentale


WHAT THEY DO

“Pulp Pantry is rethinking what it means to produce good food with sustainability, local sourcing and social impact as top priorities. We work with commercial juiceries to turn organic vegetable and nut pulp into superior delicious, healthy products that are fit for a variety of restricted diets, armed with a mission to bridge the gap between food waste and food insecurity. We’re creating food that’s good for you and good for our collective environment.”

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HOW PULP PANTRY WAS BORN

“Pulp Pantry was born from a simple ah-ha moment, when I watched a friend juice a carrot in my final year at USC. I was dumbfounded by the relatively small amount of liquid that resulted, leaving behind a beautiful heap of vibrant, fresh carrot pulp. My friend, knowing that I was already deep in the zero-waste mindset, admitted that she had never known what to do with the pulp (ultimately, sending it to the trash) and let me take it home to experiment with.

I made my first carrot cake cookies, and they were delicious! My mind was whizzing thinking about the issue of food waste on a larger scale, and I began to consider how I might help large food producers such as commercial juiceries manage their organic waste. The next day, I called up 10 juiceries in the area to see what they were doing with their pulp. All were sending it to the landfill. Then I asked if they would let me come to collect pulp, which they were happy to do. And thus, the Pulp ideation process began.”

MOST REWARDING STARTUP EXPERIENCE 

“The product is a direct result of a passion for sustainability and a desire to spread the mission and vision for a more equitable and efficient food system. Connecting with people who are also passionate about making a difference in their community has been by far the most rewarding aspect of all of this; there is so much power in the collective impact our actions may have with some directed and focused energy.”

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OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

“The first obstacle for me was to drop the structured and certain life I’d become so used to living, which I was eager to do, but at the same time frightened. I am full of positive but frazzled energy, which is a wonderful thing that I embrace in many cases, but not so great when you need to prioritize and organize your self-directed tasks. Secondly, I understand now that being a woman entrepreneur does come with significant challenges. You have to demand respect, but the first part of that is taking yourself and your business seriously.”

ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS 

“Test your ideas and prototypes early on and in front of potential customers. Don’t be afraid to share your work openly and with the courage to accept feedback (be it negative or positive). Continue to transition and redefine your products as you collect consumer feedback. This way, you can make sure that your products are truly filling an unmet need.

I have created some crazy things in my kitchen and I am thankful for the many USC friends and roommates who came back to try my iterations over and over again. Mapping out the people and resources in your network is also incredibly helpful, because quickly you’ll feel less overwhelmed knowing you can draw on them for support. Actually, it’s been great to start thinking about going through life in that way – to really consider the different skills and resources we all bring to the table and then try to connect those things to create something meaningful. Sometimes the answers aren’t obvious, but by asking the right people the right questions, things come together magnificently.”

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