Millennials on a Mission
The future’s in the best of hands, led by the Chipotle generation’s “food with integrity” ethos. Everybody wants to rule the world, but Lisa Curtis and Dan Kurzrock may just do that before they’re 35.
Curtis’ overseas stint as a young Peace Corps volunteer inspired her to found Kuli Kuli, centered on West Africa’s remarkable moringa plant. Boasting a nutritional profile superior to kale and anti-inflammatory benefits rivaling those of turmeric, moringa seemed like a natural fit for health-obsessed Americans. Curtis aimed to use the plant’s superpowers to help women in West Africa earn a sustainable livelihood, and produced and packaged moringa powders, bars and wellness shots. Six years later, Kuli Kuli is a multi-million-dollar enterprise with moringa products in more than 10,000 U.S. stores.
What Curtis learned along the way provides a window into the millennial worldview, simultaneously aspirational and pragmatic. She has a much keener sense of how to market the products to consumers, most of whom aren’t driven by her genuine motivation to help African women.
“I quickly learned that people aren’t looking for products that will save the world, but for products that will make them healthier or are delicious, ideally both.”
Millennials, however, may be seeking more. “We want to eat healthy food with a story that we can feel good about—and also share on our Instagram!” she says.
At the same time Curtis was orchestrating the rise of superfood moringa, Kurzrock was turning pounds of leftover grain from his craft brewing hobby into a superflour.
“Our original intent was to have a brewery that was also a bakery, but we realized that commercial breweries were also challenged with how to better use unspent grain,” says Kurzrock. “So, we began connecting the dots to address this in a much better way.”
He and ReGrained co-founder Jordan Schwartz worked with the USDA on a patented process to harvest “spent” grain from breweries and mill it into SuperGrain+, a nutrient-dense flour used to make energy bars now sold at more than 1,000 stores across the country.
They also entered a strategic partnership with Griffith Foods, enabling ReGrained to scale up production significantly and create new markets for the ingredient. This entrepreneur whose mission “to better align the food we eat with the planet we love” is just getting started.