Editor’s Note: This week’s Startup Spotlight is YUMiBOX by YUMiTRITION, 1st place winners in the Small & Medium Enterprise Track of the McGill Dobson Cup 2016. Zoey Li, co-founder and current McGill dietetic student, was recently featured on Global News Montreal, The Montreal Gazette, and Breakfast Television Montreal (full video interview below). YUMiBOX by YUMiTRITION will also be representing Montreal in the Canadian Finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) to be held in Vancouver next year.
Hi Zoey, congratulations on the success of your startup since the McGill Dobson Cup 2016. Could you tell us what YUMiBOX is all about?
YUMiBOX is a monthly subscription box created by a team of nutritionists that delivers healthy whole grain mixes right to your door — made for blood sugar control. In the YUMiBOX, you will get one savory whole grain mix and one oatmeal mix, all individually packaged in small packets for portion control and convenient use. Each month our flavours are different and our grains combination is different. We’re not just food products, we help you transition to a healthier lifestyle — starting with healthy carbs. We’re here to bring back the joy and excitement in eating good food.
How did you come up with this idea?
I grew up with a family history of diabetes, I saw my mom struggle with her carbohydrate and nutritional intake — a problem you see with most diabetic patients who seek nutritional advice from dietitians. It inspired me to pursue an education in Dietetics at McGill where I met my co-founder, Yin, RD and PhD candidate at McGill, who shared my passion. And then there was the “aha” moment, where Yin and I decided to create a practical solution to help people transition from our desperate reliance on refined carbs and choose healthier carbohydrate options. Not only for blood sugar management, but also because it’s the right thing to do for overall health benefits.
Why is it helping people living with diabetes?
Our society is so dependent on simple and refined carbs instead of healthier carbs, which is one of the reasons contributing to this growing epidemic where 1 in 3 of us will be diagnosed with diabetes in 2050. Healthy carbs are less processed and contain greater amounts of fibre and protein, which enable a much slower digestion in our gut, which in turn leads to a slow release of glucose in the blood and is beneficial for blood sugar control. The problem that diabetics face nutritionally is their fear of carbohydrates every time they eat, and the stress of not knowing what to eat. Imagine on top of that, everyone’s’ juggling their busy lives. With YUMiBOX, we make eating whole grains and resistant starches as easy and convenient as eating pasta. Plus it’s yummy too!
What is special about YUMiBOX?
The innovative part of YUMiBOX is that, we don’t just tell you want to do, we do it for you so that the transition process is low commitment, easy, fun and delicious! We’re not a diet plan (which, of course, no one really follows forever), we’ve taken the approach of a fun discovery journey of whole grains to really influence behaviour change. It’s smart and proactive eating without sacrificing taste and time. YUMiBOX is not only for people with diabetes but also helps people be proactive for a healthy life and chronic disease prevention. Our team of nutritionists look at the nutrition profile behind each grain, put together a mix, and portion control it. Leaving our users feeling confident.
What is the feedback you get from your customers?
Some customers tell us that we have made it so easy and fun to incorporate whole grains in their diets. We have moms telling us their kids (even the picky eaters) love our flavours, and our recipes are a fun family activity. Customers email us with great blood sugar readings after their meals. It’s really motivating for us to move forward.
How do we get YUMiBOX?
Go to www.yumibox.com and click to subscribe! It is $29.99 with free shipping around Canada. It’s a monthly automatic subscription, so you’ll be surprised by our innovative flavours and grain pairings every month!
What is YUMiTRITION?
It’s where we started, a web platform where McGill nutrition and dietetics students provide valid and research-based articles on nutrition and blood sugar management. There are so many myths and false information out there, we needed a place where the right information gets heard. Plus, you get to see innovative recipes from students — the future leaders and advocates of nutrition and health. To bring it full circle, we offer knowledge on our YUMiTRITION website, and a practical solution with YUMiBOX, where we provide support both online and offline.
Where do you want to take the company?
Our vision is to use nutrition as a tool to help people combat chronic diseases and develop healthy lifestyles. We see ourselves as one of the future leaders of the food and nutrition industry, with impact not only on consumer diets, but also influencing behaviour change.
What are your future steps?
In the short term, we will focus more on the marketing and getting more people to know us, at the same time increasing production and inventory to be able to fulfill orders and bring it to the next level. We’ve spent a lot of time understanding our operations, production, and distribution systems, as well as focusing our key messages and making our products better achieve our value propositions. Now, we’re ready for more users to hop on the YUMiBOX experience!