NakiNoku's origin story is as straightforward as our name (which means Taste & See in the language of South India).
We are passionate about food + tech.
We believe that a positive, digital product sampling experience enables you to discover new flavors and support the small food industry!
Several years ago, we started up a small packaged food business and were able to sell at a speciality grocery store chain in Chicago. The only options to support sales of the product were coupons or in-store sampling. Coupons wrecked our margins (which are slim in packaged food to begin with), so we attempted in-store sampling. As founders, in-store sampling brought us joy to interact directly with our customers.
However, this was costly both in terms of time and cost. We were traveling to a new region, setting up our station for product demos, in multiple stores across weeks. Ultimately, we made the decision to close the business.
We remain foodies at heart, and as consumers, we are frustrated with the waste associated with product discovery. We want to support innovative local small businesses and the communities they represent.
We'd often purchase a product that sounded like it had the right flavor profile we were looking for, only to get home and discover the taste just didn't match our tastebuds!
Taste is a personal thing and each person's spice tolerance, for example, is unique. After ending up with a fridge full of sauces and condiments (out of guilt from throwing out good food!) we decided there had to be a better way to enable product discovery, while reducing waste.
We're excited that our struggles have now enabled a discovery platform that allows other small businesses to scale their innovations and bring greater equity to the food industry.
CEO & Co-founder
Tonny's a passionate foodie, with a keen love for all the geekiest parts of the food universe. He's also a first generation Asian immigrant who has worked in Finance,Technology and Risk Management before diving into the Food & Beverage industry. Tonny has lived across the US, the UK, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore resulting in a deep love for cultures and ethnic foods.
Trained and certified as an FDA-approved Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI), with certifications in both Better Process Control School and Good Manufacturing Practices, Tonny enjoys guiding small food business founders through all the nerdy science behind food processing and what it takes to produce your amazing condiments.
Talk to me about: The immigrant experience, food (especially BBQ & Coffee), automobiles, technology, risk management and food processing.
CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) & Co-founder
Merly loves to explore new ingredients and discover the truth behind the saying "food is medicine". With a Masters in Public Health and an MBA, Merly guides our enterprise into "doing good". Having lived in South East Asia, this opened the door to many new cultures and incredible tastes and flavors. She believes that product discovery should be easy and convenient so that all people have a chance to taste amazing flavors. Having co-founded and served as CEO of a previous startup food business, she believes that the food industry needs to better equip new brands to grow. These enterprises are most often started by women and people of color, and face difficult odds in getting to the shelf. She is passionate about our capacity to help new entrepreneurs scale and succeed.
Talk to me about : Empowering Entrepreneurs, Enabling Women-owned businesses, Public Health and Health & Wellness.