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 made it into a speciality grocery store chain in Chicago. The only options to support sales of the product, was 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 is a passionate foodie, with a keen love for all the geekiest parts of the food universe. A first generation immigrant who worked in Technology and Risk Management before transitioning into the Food & Beverage industry. Tonny has lived across the US, the UK, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore resulting in a deep love for ethnic foods.
Talk to me about : The immigrant experience, food (especially BBQ & Coffee), automobiles, technology and risk management.
CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) & Co-founder
Merly loves to explore new ingredients to discover the truth behind the saying "food is medicine". With a Masters in Public Health, along with the pre-requisite MBA, she guides our enterprise into "doing good". Living in South East Asia opened the door to many new and incredible tastes and flavors. She believes that product discovery should be easy and convenient so that all people have a chance to taste these flavors. Having co-founded and served as CEO of a startup packaged food business, she believes that the industry needs to enable new brands to grow. These enterprises are most often started by women and persons of color, and face difficult odds in getting to the shelf. She is passionate about our role in helping new entrepreneurs to succeed.
Talk to me about : Empowering Entrepreneurs, Enabling Women owned businesses, Public Health and Health & Wellness.