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New digs at MassChallenge

Asulia blog new digs at masschallenge

We moved into our summer home at MassChallenge (MC) in the Innovation District a few weeks ago!  During the first week and a half at MC, we attended bootcamp sessions designed to fast track the learning process of this 4 month accelerator program, which is like a condensed version of business school.  We have the privilege of learning from some of the community’s most respected founders from companies such as Monster, Rue La La, Communispace, iRobot (Roomba, your pet’s BF), talented entrepreneurs on the MC staff, and many more.

Post bootcamp, we’ve been meeting more amazing people, hearing from speakers, and attending marketing, team culture, funding, workshops and more. There’s even happy hour once a week, but my favorite is the fizzy water we have on tap in the kitchen! Good thing we juice to keep energy levels up!  The support and community here is amazing. It’s an honor to come in each day and be surrounded by such awesome people. Although Asulia is one of only two food startups here, we all have something to contribute, despite our different industries.

We’ve also been busy redesigning the packaging for our kale, chickpea, and taro root fusion dumplings, expanding into more stores, and out in the community sharing lots of samples at events!

Details and info about free dumpling tastings and where we’ll be next are here.

Hope to see you soon!




Free Yoga at Fan Pier Park

asulia blog free yoga at fan pier park

Join us for a free yoga class from 6-7pm on 7/24/14 at Fan Pier Park! Ellen Wells from Asana Boston will be leading the class over looking the harbor. 

Asulia Foods will be sponsoring the free event and providing free fusion dumplings. Our friends at Whole Foods Charles River Plaza and Motto will be on hand to help you replenish after class with free snacks and refreshments! 

Please bring your own mat. Class will take place on the grassy park across from Strega Restaurant at One Marina Park Drive (56 Northern Ave), Boston, MA

Donations will be accepted for Room to Read. Even if you can’t attend, you can still support the cause with a donation in any amount. To sign up for the free event, please visit our event page on Facebook.

We can’t wait to see you! Namaste friends : )


Redesigning our retail boxes

asulia blog redesigning our retail boxes

It’s time to get out the crayons and markers! We’re redesigning our current Asulia fusion dumpling boxes to fit freezer shelves better and to better catch your attention.

Well not really, since we are ogling at designs online at The Dieline, in grocery stores, and more. I like to sketch out ideas in my little red moleskin notebook and work collaboratively with our designer to come up with new ideas.

While giving out samples of our fusion kale, chickpea, and taro root dumplings at events, I’ve gotten useful feedback about how our retail boxes look, and also more importantly how they make you feel upon first look. This is that it reminded you of another brand, it looked healthy, and simple.

In our initial foray into the world of packaging design, we strived to create a look that was clean, modern, simple, and something that fit in at natural and organic food stores. We accomplished the later so much that we’ve learned that our boxes don’t stand out!

So it’s time for change.

It feels a bit daunting to embark yet again into the world of packaging. Our current packaging may look simple, but it was a long process to get it from concept, to draft, to print.  There are a number of factors to consider when designing a consumer packaged goods product. For example, what message you’d like convey, how certain colors make you feel. With only a few seconds to make a great impression on the shelf, understanding who you’re shoppers are, their needs, and a bit of marketing psychology comes in handy.

Being in the freezer is also different than a product that’s on the regular shelf. You’re looking through pane of glass that can accumulate a bit of condensation at times from the freezer door opening and closing. The use of colors and images need to be adapted to this type of environment.

The first time we printed our retail boxes, there were a number of issues we didn’t catch before going to print. To fix this, I hand stickered labels on ALL the boxes. In fact, some boxes I’ve stickered twice, after finding out about another issue. I’m thankful my fellow food entrepreneurs advised me not to print a large run. This go around, I’m implementing a checklist along with multiple editors to look over everything before we go to print!

We’d love your feedback on our ideas. Stay tuned!


MassChallenge Finalist

asulia blog 2014 MassChallenge Finalist

I’m beyond ecstatic to share that Asulia has been selected as one of 128 startups for the 2014 MassChallenge program! It’s an honor to be invited to be part of such an amazing community of startups and entrepreneurs.

Being a finalist means free office space for our marketing intern and I to work from, access to amazing resources, and, most importantly, the opportunity to work alongside fellow entrepreneurs who are just as crazy and in love with what they do as I am.

It’s so encouraging to be chosen to be a MassChallenge finalist. Startup life is a rollercoaster of the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. This milestone validates that my ideas for merging my obsession with vegetables (#vod) and desire to help girls is working, slowly but surely. MassChallenge will help us accelerate this process, so we can make a bigger impact quicker.

We’ve come a long way from the beginning, where I knew very little about the food industry, to selling our fusion vegan dumplings in Whole Foods, Formaggio Kitchen SE, Volante Farms and more today. And we’ve only just begun! Follow us on our journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more news!


Semifinals of MassChallenge 2014

asulia blog semifinals of mass challenge 2014

I’m so excited to share that Asulia made it to round two of MassChallenge’s 2014 Accelerator Program! They choose 350 startups from over 1,600 applications and we’re one of them.

We are a growing natural food brand with big ambition and a lot of heart. We’re thrilled to get an chance to pitch and continue to build and grow Asulia.

Next, Asulia will give a 20 minute pitch live in person to a panel of judges at the MassChallenge office. Out of the 300 startups to present, MassChallenge will select 128 startups for their 2014 Accelerator Program. We hope to be one of them.

This opportunity would mean free office space for four months, free or discounted rates to resources, mentorship, and the potential for cash without having to give up any equity.

One of the benefits of having VOD “Vegetable Obsessive Disorder “ is that I can help promote vegetables and all the great things that come from eating lots of greens! For example, heart disease is the number one killer in America, but this doesn’t have to be the case. At Asulia, we work to make eating vegetables fun and delicious for all. We don’t need another pill or fad diet to help address our nation’s health crisis, but products that help people eat healthier. Asulia believes in people, planet, and profit. We believe in the transformative power of nutrition and education to change lives.

I’m working on my pitch by connecting with friends that have already been through the program. They are helping me prepare by making sure I include all the do and don’ts in my presentation. Who would know better than fellow entrepreneurs that have done this before?

I applied last year, but didn’t make it to the semifinals, but kept working. Over the past year, I’ve proven my concept, built the brand, and bootstrapped to launch. With the nudge of fellow entrepreneurs, I re-applied this year and figured I would not know unless I tried. Now I’m one step closer to getting Asulia in the accelerator program and getting much needed office space so our summer intern has a place to work and more!

Asulia at Shark Tank Casting

asulia blog asulia shark tank casting

As an entrepreneur, I hear over and over, “you should go on Shark Tank”. I think there are a few reasons why I’m told this:

A) People know funding is important for any startup business.
B) People know I’m taking a big chance starting Asulia on my own without the assistance of any equity investors.
C) People love watching the show.

Looking back, I think if I didn’t bootstrap to launch, it would have taken much longer to go to market. Answering to someone else about your spending can make things complicated, to say the least. Funding may seem like the magic solution, but it’s not the end all be all. I feel that creativity, focus, determination, your ability to work with people, and having the right heart about why you’re doing what you do matter so much more than having a big bank account.

Frankly, until I heard the casting crew was coming to Boston, I’d never thought much about Shark Tank. You’re probably asking, what changed? As I continue to grow Asulia and meet new friends in this startup journey, I’ve connected with founders who have gone on the show. Their feedback over time has made me think twice about the opportunity to pitch to Shark Tank investors.

My mission with Asulia is to create delicious fusion veggie foods to help people eat healthier while supporting girls’ education. We’re a growing natural foods brand with big ambition and a lot of heart! For Asulia to have the impact I envision means growing, and that may mean finding the right investors to help me get there.

So, I decided to go to ABC’s Shark Tank Casting Call.

asulia blog asulia at shark tank casting

It started early in the morning. Asulia dumpling boxes and I stood in line for about 3 hours in 32 degree Fahrenheit weather outside in Central Square at Workbar. At about 9:30am, they announced wristbands would be handed out. Only the first 500 to get a wristband would get a chance to pitch to the casting team. Once I got my lucky number 71, I walked over to Life Alive to fuel up on vegetables before returning to pitch.

I grew up in Montana. I seldom ever meet anyone from MT so when Catrina Marsh, Associate Casting Producer told me she was  born in the town I was from, we were both in shock. It put me at ease to know she was from the same place. I gave it my all and felt good about 1 minute pitch.

At about 1 minute 18 seconds into this clip from WCVB, you can see me in action pitching to Catrina. The Boston Business Journal was also there capturing the day’s event. I’m on slide two, not my most flattering photo, but you get the point!

The casting call is just the first step of many to make it on the show. Will Asulia make it on Shark Tank? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest!



Asulia at Whole Foods Charles River Plaza

I love living in The Bean. One of the things that I love about Boston is how accessible everything is, including grocery shopping. Off the red line at MGH, Whole Foods Charles River Plaza is one of the best locations to get everything you need.

I’m ecstatic that Asulia’s taro root, kale and chick pea dumplings are now available in the freezer aisle at Charles River Plaza Whole Foods!

When I used to work in the financial district, I would walk to Whole Foods Charles River Plaza at lunch time to pick up lunch and or groceries for my newest kitchen adventure. It was a treat to get out and escape from work and the gym, where I was indoors in a basement doing yoga. A lovely, well-lit studio, but I preferred shopping and lunching at Whole Foods instead!

In the past, when I didn’t know what to do with my vegetable obsession (#vod), I’d go to my happy place — the produce section — for inspiration and dream of a day I could make a career in food. Well, I’m happy and humbled to see it come full circle.

Thank you for your continued support. We have added lots of new stores to the list and we have some fun event coming up. Come say hi!

Asulia Dumplings at Volante Farms

Asulia at Volante Farms.jpg

I have a story for almost every store in which Asulia finds a home. More often than not, I have shopped there and have fond memories of what I bought the last time I was there. I love getting to know the people who run the store.

Volante Farms, our newest store as of today, is a perfect example.  When Chef Todd found us on social media and reached out I was thrilled. I’ve known about the great work he and his team are doing out in Needham for a while. When we sat down to talk, we both agreed that you can taste the care and craft that goes into products made with heart.

I have a huge crush on the vegetables at Volante Farms. They are beautiful! I know I might sound crazy, but the vibrant colors and textures make me swoon. I just want to grab a bunch of veggies and head to the kitchen to dice, chop, and cook for friends and family. Just about everything at Volante is local. They grow a majority of their own produce. They’re family run. They support local makers in our New England economy. We are lucky to have friends like them.

Thank you Volante Farms for believing in our product and mission. Everyone I’ve met is a joy to work with. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our dumplings on the shelf at Volante starting today.  Head out to Volante Farms in Needham, MA and shop local!