After an indulgent trip to Italy, Jazz Sanchez, JaziLupini Founder, began experimenting with protein-rich lupin flour to create a pasta alternative for people with restricted diets. The result? This New York start-up can’t keep the product in stock due to its popularity with health-conscious pasta-lovers everywhere.
Nicole Astra: Welcome to Talking Plant Protein. I'm your host, Nicole Astra. I am so excited for our guest joining us in the talk lab studio today. Jazz Sanchez, the founder of JaziLupini. One of my highlights is that we get to bring you the latest innovation from startups, and this is a young entrepreneur, absolutely worth the watch. Jazz, welcome to the show.
Jazz Sanchez: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Nicole.
Nicole Astra: So I want to get into the lupin bean and the origin of JaziLupini, but first I want to talk about your own journey to health and how that really prompted you wanting something else available in the plant-based space.
Jazz Sanchez: Yes. So when I was younger, I was a overweight, obese child. And so I had the comorbidities that are associated with that, like asthma. And I was functioning fine. Fatness is never a problem when you're young, especially when you're very young. Socially it can be an issue, but health wise, people don't start to feel the problems until they get a bit older. And so one day I found out that I was actually pre-diabetic, which is basically diabetes in its very early these stages. And it was from there that I decided that I wanted to get things under control. And so, I'm no longer prediabetic. I was able to reverse my insulin resistance by cutting out refined carbs, especially sugars, and sticking to mostly a low carb diet.
Nicole Astra: And certainly pasta is one of those things that had to go. But it's such comfort food for all of us. The Kraft Heinz beans innovation challenge through Future Food-Tech in London was the first time I heard about lupin beans. And you presented there, one of 128 entries, rose to the top as a semi finalist. But tell me your introduction to the lupin bean.
Jazz Sanchez: We had actually, my siblings and I planned a trip for our mother for her 59th birthday. And we decided to take her to Sicily. And it was a beautiful trip. We took a pasta making course together. We went through vineyards and of course we ate a lot of pasta too on vacation. And so when I came back home, I was just craving pasta pretty heavy. But you know, I'm back from vacation, back on the diet, have to stick to it. No more cheat meals, especially when you've been gone for a whole week. It's not where you have a little treat here and there, you especially want to stick to your diet because you've indulged so much on vacation. And that was around the time when the pandemic hit and all of the restaurants had closed and all of the dry goods were being taken off of the shelves.
So even if I wanted to cheat, I couldn't. And everyone was stuck at home. So from there, I just decided, you know what, I'm going to make my own version of a low carb pasta. And I started experimenting with different kinds of flours, almond flour, coconut flour. None of them had that texture, that al dente chew that regular pasta has. And I just learned about a new trend in the keto community, where people were using lupin flour to bake breads. And I thought this would be really interesting to see how it would do in a pasta because I had actually had lupin beans for the first time in Italy. They're a bar snack in the Mediterranean region, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and they actually eat them like pickled.
Nicole Astra: So tell me about, we've talked about special diets, particularly for those it's medically necessary for. But you really found your community and your customer in that audience. Tell me how they embraced Lupini.
Jazz Sanchez: So, not being wheat, it is gluten free. The bean is naturally very low carb. It's more low carb than chickpeas and soy, which are also legumes like the lupin bean. And it's gluten free, it's vegan and it fits into all of those categories. So many people can enjoy it. Whereas vegans can't have egg pasta, but it mimics that egg pasta texture so well. So, so many people that typically wouldn't be eating pasta are now able to have it with JaziLupini. And it supplements the diet for people who need extra protein who are vegans as well. But where I really found my niche, which you're mentioning, is the diabetic community. So many people cannot have pasta unless it's one of those zero carb or zero calorie pasta's like shirataki noodles, which is basically just like kongac fiber. And it doesn't taste very good. It has like a rubber band-
Nicole Astra: It does not taste very good.
Jazz Sanchez: And it has a fishy odor when it first comes out of the bag and I think that's very off putting for the experience. So customer experience was very important to me when developing JaziLupini because first I developed it for me and I would never sell to other people something that I would not want to eat. And I always say cooks our slogan is that it looks like pasta. It like pasta, it tastes like pasta. It is pasta. And you don't have to do any like magic tricks to make it sort of seem like pasta or anything like that that you have to do with shirataki noodles.
Nicole Astra: Let's talk about funding. You've had some success in a Kickstarter or campaign, again, because people really have responded to this product. But what's next for you and how do you anticipate being able to scale up?
Jazz Sanchez: Oh, well, we're currently talking to two accelerators. We put our applications in and we're in the later stages of discussing the process and showing them our finances. And we're also looking for venture capitalists as well. An issue that we've run into with regards to scaling has been that people want this product and when people want a product, you run out of inventory very quickly. So we put the product, we did our Kickstarter and we were able to fund some manufacturing. And from that we're also launching as well, but we opened ourselves up to wholesale and our wholesale inventory is completely sold out and we haven't launched yet. So that's why we are looking for funding because we'll be able to build up our inventory and have storage as well.
Nicole Astra: And again, you are a group of young female entrepreneurs running the ship. Is that correct?
Jazz Sanchez: Yes. Yes. And I'm the eldest. I'm 25 years old.
Nicole Astra: Again, one of our perks is really introducing the industry to innovation like yours and we really appreciate it. So JaziLupini, and I have heard you say you are bridging the gap between healthy and convenient. So I can't wait to get my hands on your pasta. Thank you for joining us on Talking Plant Protein.
Jazz Sanchez: Thank you, Nicole.