Florence Leong of KosmodeHealth tells us about human nutrition by extracting nutrients from this waste.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you KosmodeHealth.
Florence Leong: A business school graduate with more than a decade of international product strategy development, market development, and organizational set-up/re-engineering experience in big pharma. I discovered the world of small start-ups after leaving the big pharma for the venture capital industry. I love the fluidity, pace, and innovative culture in the start-up ecosystem enough to stay on as an angel investor, start-up advisor & mentor. KosmodeHealth Singapore is a start-up I co-founded with Prof Huang Dejian from the Food Science Technology Department of the National University of Singapore. Prof Huang was my mentee at the National University of Singapore. I decided to join hands with him after almost 2 years of mentorship after he made the statement that he will do what he is good at, and I do what I am good at.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Florence Leong: Not sure of any habits. But I guess my belief that ‘anything that is worth doing is challenging’; and the ‘can do’ mentality has helped me pull through tough challenges and keep me sane.
How does KosmodeHealth market its product/services online?
Florence Leong: KosmodeHealth is a B2B enabler. We address the challenges of high agricultural & food processing waste by extracting nutrients from this waste for human nutrition, thereby resolving issues of functional food security. The only online product which we are marketing is the W0W noodle – a zero starch, zero glycemic response, zero waste functional noodle made from upcycled barley protein & fiber. W0W noodle is the only functional food with nutrients and yet doesn’t elevate post-meal blood sugar levels. It is specially formulated for consumers with diabetes and/or weight concerns.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Florence Leong: Delegation skills – delegate it to a Marketing Lead who will soon join the company to elevate online marketing effectiveness.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Florence Leong: KosmodeHealth is a small start-up. We use the FOC hiring platform and look for individuals passionate about our cause and with aligned values.
How are you funding your growth?
Florence Leong: Has been self-funded, with founders’ capital and some revenue, till early this year when we raised pre-seeds capital from angels.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Florence Leong: Companies with plant extraction expertise are mainly in the west. Having said that, the fact that agri-food companies from the USA and Europe have approached KosmodeHealth is an indication that there is a dearth of plant extraction companies with the expertise to valorize agri-food waste streams effectively & efficiently in a halal certifiable manner.
There is currently no other functional food that has no glycemic response. The closest competitors are konjac noodles, with no glycemic response but also no nutrients, and high protein noodles but with a high glycemic index. The biggest competitor would be patients’ indifference and lack of understanding of the “Food as medicine’ concept. It is interesting that 50% of our customers claim to buy W0W noodles because of their health benefits, but few are consuming W0W on a regular basis to be able to reap its health benefits.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Florence Leong: One W0W noodle customer who consumed W0W noodles for one meal a day reported a drop in triglycerides & weight after 3 months of consumption. In November last year, after about 4 to 5 months, her doctor told her that she could stop taking her hypertension medicine – a medication she has been taking for more than a decade.
Your final thoughts?
Florence Leong: So much has been said about food security. This is especially an issue with supply-side challenges caused by logistic and geopolitical conflicts. Technological advances such as urban farming and cell-based meat are important tools that must be explored. However, one simple approach is to simply make better use of agri-food waste streams, wastes that are concentrated with protein, fiber, and other bio-nutrients but are currently, at best, used as fertilizers & animal feed and at worst, thrown into landfills.