The Enterprise Nation member disrupting the snack sector with an ancient grain

The Enterprise Nation member disrupting the snack sector with an ancient grain
Rushina Shah
Rushina ShahMegha Foods Ltd.

Posted: Fri 14th Sep 2018

Enterprise Nation member Rushina Shah tells the story behind her brand, Not.Corn.

Describe your business in one sentence:

We are disrupting the snack category with the first popped sorghum (an ancient grain) product across Europe

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?

Over the years, I have been constantly searching for easily accessible snacks which not only taste delicious but do not contain any refined sugars and 'nasties'. I became more and more fascinated in diet and nutrition and realised that a lot of products which claim to be healthy are in fact not.

When I saw my aunt popping a grain (called sorghum) which was not the traditional corn kernel, I became instantly intrigued.

As she had eaten the popped grain as a small child in India, she was familiar with its amazing benefits. But my instinct was one of apprehension as I had already seen a number of products which claimed to be 'healthy' and were in fact not.

I became obsessed with learning more about this grain and spoke to experts in India to understand more about it. I even sent the popped grain for nutritional testing and the staggering result was one that I could not question.

It was then that I decided to leave my corporate job at Procter & Gamble and develop Not.Corn at home so that I could offer others a genuinely healthy snack and allow them to experience a sense of discovery given that it is the first of its kind to the UK!

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge to date has been securing a contract manufacturer in order to scale.

We first launched in 2017 after having produced the products at home myself. The consumer reaction gave us the conviction that we needed to launch larger-scale.

However, it proved difficult finding a manufacturer that was able to produce popped sorghum in scale whilst maintaining the great flavour and quality.

We spent about two years perfecting the process and recipe and working with co-manufacturers across Europe. We have now found the solution!

What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?

Not.Corn is a finalist in the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards and was voted a Small Biz 100 top 100 small business to watch.

We were also a finalist in the Stylist Creator's Collective, appeared in the Stylist magazine, were a finalist in Cosmopolitan's Pitch Palace and a finalist at The Pitch Live.

What is your next big business goal?

We are about to launch into health stores, retail, online, direct to consumer and food boxes.

This is an exciting moment for the business and our goal is to drive mass awareness of Not.Corn (making it synonymous with sorghum) before expanding into Europe.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?

We need to make the most of our first mover advantage and drive mass awareness with consumers to educate them on what sorghum is and it's amazing health benefits.

How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?

I have attended a number of events through Enterprise Nation which have helped me to meet and network with other entrepreneurs. The start-up life can get quite lonely, so this has been invaluable!

In addition, the events have helped me reach buyers, speak to press and the weekly newsletters have helped with things like VAT which seem daunting at first for a small business.

Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?

The other Enterprise Naton members that I have met who have also taken the risk to start up their own businesses and who hustle every day to make their dreams a reality!

What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

1. Keep going. You'll get a number of set-backs (pretty much everyday) but I've heard that the best entrepreneurs are the ones that pick themselves back up!

2. Learn to say 'no.' As a small business, you get pushed in a number of different directions and a lot of other companies will often say that the can offer something to you. If you say 'yes' to everything, you won't be able to do your day job and will get bombarded with a million different things.

3. Have no regrets. There was a reason why you decided to become an entrepreneur. When you don't see a salary coming in, remember why you set up your own business in the first place!

We're proud to have people like Rushina as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.

Growing your own food or drink business? The Food Exchange in London on 21 September is a must attend event for food and drink entrepreneurs. Find out more here.

Rushina Shah
Rushina ShahMegha Foods Ltd.
Not.corn is a healthier alternative to snacks such as popcorn and had 82% less fat, 22% fewer calories and 15% more protein than popcorn. It is popped in the same way as popcorn but uses an alternative grain which has various health benefits

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