Founders Milli Kumar and Jenni Matheson met at Venture Taranaki's Powerup Ideas Competition in 2021. A vegan for more than 20 years, Jenni had created vegan ice-cream made from cauliflower in her kitchen at home. The fortuitous meeting with food technologist, Milli, led the pair to create Kinda; a sustainable food start-up. They have three ice-cream flavours - strawberry ripple, triple chocolate and mint choc biccie - and will be launching their single serve tubs in 2023.

Tell us briefly about your business…

Kinda is making animal-free foods taste better, by using science, technology and a bit of kiwi ingenuity. Our first product range is ice-cream using an innovative formulation of cauliflower!  This has created a creamier, dairy-like texture with a higher melting stability than competitor products. We at Kinda don't like food waste, so have partnered with Social Enterprise - Perfectly Imperfect to utilise ‘cosmetically imperfect’ cauliflower, and to add value to New Zealand growers. Initial research has shown us that we are producing 84% less greenhouse gases, utilising 93% less land, 81% less water and 53% less nutrient runoff into the environment, compared to traditional dairy.

How did Soda's LIFT programme help your business?

The LIFT programme has been instrumental in our progress. We needed some support in financial planning, distribution and our marketing strategy. Through our Soda LIFT mentor, Brianne West from Ethique, we have managed to achieve over and above what we had set out to do.

What did you enjoy most about the LIFT programme?

The feeling you get knowing that you have other people wanting to see you succeed and who are willing to support you in any way that they can; be it sharing their opinions, knowledge or contacts. Brianne connected us with people within the industry that we were having difficulty reaching. We feel this has made a big impact to our progress.

Where do you hope the business will be in five years?

In five years, we see ourselves selling in the global market. We are already researching into potential markets and have started having initial conversations.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in your entrepreneurial journey?

We think it is all a challenge! We are learning as we go and have become experts at solving problems. If we had to narrow it down, our most challenging area would be packaging and distribution. Packaging and distribution require minimum order quantities that well exceed a company that is starting out.

What’s a business highlight you’re proud of?

We have had so many highlights along the way, but our biggest one has to be our taste testing event at Massey University in May. It was the first time we got to share our ice-cream with others and see the joy and amazement on people's faces. Check out this video of the taste testing night.

What or who inspires you?

We are inspired by companies that are leading the way in making a positive impact in the world, by having environmentally friendly processes, treating their staff really well and giving back to the community, such as Ethique, Raglan Food Co & Chia Sisters.

What do you enjoy most about being a business founder?

Getting to eat all the ice-cream of course! Ha ha - not going to lie it is a bonus. We are really enjoying the process of planning our launch. It requires thinking outside the box when you are a start-up and there is a type of freedom that comes with that. We also enjoy working together as a team, seeing the progress, connecting with other people and the feeling of knowing our energies are going into making the world a better place.

Tell me what a normal day or week looks like for you?

It is always changing. Currently we are planning our launch which requires a lot of organising and coordinating, so phone calls, emails, zoom meetings, researching etc. In a couple of weeks, we will be up at the factory for a week manufacturing and visiting potential customers and suppliers.

Does Kinda have any exciting plans for 2022 and beyond?

In November we have a stall at Fieldays in partnership with Massey University. This will be the first time we will be sharing our ice cream and brand with the masses. We will be officially launching in early 2023 in partnership with Hell Pizza. If you would like to follow our journey or get in touch, please follow us on Instagram and Facebook.