Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lola Adeyemi, Founder of It's Souper, located in Toronto, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
It's Souper is an Afro-fusion soup & sauce line that's shaking up the food & beverage industry with hearty, spicy, and flavourful African-inspired recipes. Over 60% of black immigrants moving annually to Canada are of African descent.
Yet, less than 2% of products available in the mainstream grocery store cater to their needs. Therefore, a huge gap needs to be filled, and It's Souper was launched to do just that. Create nostalgia through food and also cater to the diverse culinary needs of Canadians.
Tell us about yourself
The idea for It’s Souper emerged in late 2017. But I took my time researching the food industry because my background was originally in IT. In December 2018, I was ready with a packaged product for sale. I started It’s Souper because I realized there was a void for ready-to-eat packaged foods from my country (Nigeria) and Africa in general.
Food, like music and sports brings people together. As much as African immigrants are key players in this space, our presence is almost non-existent in the North American food & beverage/retail sectors. This inspired me to start my business to bridge this gap and spread more awareness. Not just with exposure to new recipes but also to support the global trade and imports of herbs and spices from West Africa, which are used in my soups. My vision is to become an international household name brand that brings healthy comfort food to many homes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Receiving emails from customers that my product is amazing. It solves the problem of getting a healthy meal made fast. It also solves the issues they have with gluten and access to clean, preservative-free meals. That never gets old for me because it means that my "Why" is being fulfilled.
There have been other accomplishments, such as being nominated for a Best New Product of the year award and most recently getting a deal on the current season of Dragons Den (Season 16 Ep 5).
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Industry knowledge is and remains a huge learning curve for me. The Food & Bev industry is very complex. It has so many unwritten rules that you can only learn with experience or networking. Being a solo-founder and making a lot of decisions myself can be scary.
Also, a start-up and running a lot of the operations without a large team means I can't always keep up with priorities. Lastly, of course, access to funds as a BIPOC and immigrant-owned business has been hard. I have been lucky to receive some grants that have helped me invest in the business, and I am gradually resolving some of my resourcing issues as well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Just do it. Validate that there is a gap in the market and that your concept will fill it and go for it. Nothing is guaranteed, but with hard work, drive, and of course, the right market for your business, you will be successful. You determine what that yardstick of success is for you, so you are not running someone else's race, and always remember your why.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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