Monday, December 11, 2017

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SDSU students Kristian Krugman (left) and Reyanne Mustafa co-founded the startup company, SoulFULL. (Credit: SoulFULL) SDSU students Kristian Krugman (left) and Reyanne Mustafa co-founded the startup company, SoulFULL. (Credit: SoulFULL)
 


Alleviating World Hunger One Protein Bar at a Time

Two SDSU students created a startup company through the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad with the goal of feeding impoverished areas.
By Katie Stanchis
 

“SoulFULL and the two of us would not be where we are now without ZIP Launchpad. We have also learned so much from ZIP through their mentorship.”

Working as servers at a local restaurant, San Diego State University Kristian Krugman and Reyanne Mustafa grew tired of watching mass amounts of untouched food being discarded every night.

“We’re not talking about food scraps off of customer plates,” said Mustafa. “High-volume restaurants are over supplying and throwing away nutrient-dense and high-quality food every night.”

One night, at closing time, they saw the chef preparing to throw away an entire pot of brown rice and quinoa mix. Mustafa stopped him, yet was unsure of what to do with it. All she knew was she couldn’t stand by and watch somebody waste completely viable food when there were homeless people right around the corner begging for a meal.

The next day, the two took the leftovers to downtown San Diego, one of the most densely populated homeless areas of the city. As they distributed the grains, they listened to everyone’s personal story.

“From that moment on we made it our goal to bridge the gap between food waste and food insecurity,” Mustafa said.

The duo soon realized that popular protein products sold in stores contain similar ingredients they saw being thrown away every night in restaurants. It was then they decided to start a company, and SoulFULL was born.

They started formulating powder, crackers, cookies and bars made with food waste and created a superfood protein product line dedicated to providing nutrient-rich products that are not only healthy but also good for the environment by reducing food waste and minimizing our carbon footprint.

Now, Mustafa and Krugman are semifinalists in the “How Green is Your Idea” challenge held by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a tri-nation organization working to protect the environment in North America. The challenge is for students and entrepreneurs under the age of 26 to develop feasible and scalable technology, science and business ideas that can enhance economic growth and are also environmentally sustainable.

They were selected as one of three semifinalists from the United States to present their ideas to Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, Mexico’s Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Pacchiano Alamán and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. The three finalists from the competition will be announced on June 7.

“Since SoulFULL was fostered in the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad, we knew exactly how to portray our impact and causes in a direct way,” said the new entrepreneurs who utilized SDSU’s ZIP Launchpad resources, including five months of guided and intense entrepreneurial experiments as part of the Experience Track program.

“I like to describe it as a crash course for business and make a joke that I am getting an MBA in five months” said Krugman.

Since SoulFULL has a low cost of production, for every one product sold, their goal is to donate one to a relief organization to alleviate hunger across the globe. Their plan is to provide 40,000 meals annually, reduce 127,000 pounds of food waste, and prevent 1.3 million pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere from food waste and landfills.

Krugman and Mustafa have already partnered with two large-volume restaurants and two juice bars. With the variety of food waste from each facility, they are able to incorporate grains and greens into their products. By the end of the summer, their goal is to finalize the formula for their baked good items, and they are calling for help from the SDSU community to participate in their sampling tests.

“SoulFULL and the two of us would not be where we are now without ZIP Launchpad,” the duo said. “As we mentioned earlier if it wasn’t for the deadlines and constant progress reports we would still be at step one. We have also learned so much from ZIP through their mentorship.”