Founder Spotlight: Gayatri Karandikar
Tell us a bit about your company
NOMM is the first-of-its kind vegan, no gluten, organic cookie made without any added sugar or added oil! With 8 or less ingredients and 160 calories or fewer per cookie, NOMM lets you cheat clean and stay full!
What inspired you to start NOMM?
It all started with a health-obsessed management consultant and a late-night cookie craving. I was 23 and had recently given up added sugars and artificial/“natural” sweeteners as part of an effort to recover from a medical condition. Not only was the medical diagnosis difficult to digest at such a young age, but so was the restrictive diet (no pun intended, hah)!
In my desperation, I resorted to microwaving an RX protein bar since it was my only “no added sugar” option. As the thick and chewy date paste clung to my teeth like extra sticky chewing gum, I couldn’t help but think — there HAS to be another way…I can’t possibly be the only person looking for a healthy, clean treat at 1am. And that’s how the idea for NOMM was born — and oat, date, and cashew-based cookie without any added sugar or oil.
What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?
I, like many women, have always had an interesting relationship with food. I used to always think of my “out of control sweet tooth” as my greatest vice — after all, it was the reason I’d grown up overweight and unhealthily addicted to sugar. However, that sweet tooth and my newfound desire to satisfy it in a healthy way were the key ingredients to NOMM’s creation — not such a vice after all, eh? You can read more about my personal journey on our blog.
What is an obstacle you anticipate grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Starting a food business has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life, specifically during COVID. When your commercial kitchen shuts down amidst a pandemic and co-packers have higher volume minimums than ever before, you really do pause to think about whether what you’re doing makes sense. I continue to see manufacturing and scaling sales as obstacles. It’s a “chicken and egg” situation when it comes to finding new retailers and distributors — everyone wants to see traction versus being the first to take a chance on you, but traction starts with someone willing to take a chance on you!
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
Two of the most encouraging experiences for me on my NOMM journey were, surprisingly, not connected to product sales in any way! The first came from a vegan bodybuilder and the second from a mother. The vegan bodybuilder shared how restrictive her pre-competition diet was and how exciting the prospect of a NOMM cookie was amidst her otherwise bland meal prep. For me, this moment and feedback were so much more than finding another “customer segment” — I felt so grateful to be able to spark joy in someone’s life through a simple product. The second encouraging moment for me came during a vegan food fair, where a Mom sampled my cookie and almost fell into tears. I was shocked…”wow, did it taste that bad?” I remember thinking to myself.
She went on to explain that her young daughter, who happened to love baking cookies, had recently (and unexpectedly) been diagnosed with diabetes — it had turned their whole world upside down. She was finally able to find a sweet treat for her baby in the “normal” cookie aisle, versus diabetes-specific products. Her daughter could enjoy a treat off the same grocery shelf as any other kid! This moment is one I will never forget — it showed me the power that healthy food can have in liberation and healing!