It wasn’t until Angela Sutherland became pregnant with her first child that she noticed a major gap in the market of nutritionally-sound, easily accessible baby food products.
While working in private equity, she spent the majority of her spare time researching what to feed her newborn, finding too many foods that were high in fructose.
That led her to the idea for Yumi — a freshly made organic baby food that is delivered weekly.
“I think that was what was so stark to me was that I could order a salad to my house or literally anything I wanted to my door, and it’ll get there within the hour, but, I couldn’t get fresh baby food, I could only get this one option,” Sutherland told ABC News’ Chief Business, Tech and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis on “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.
Soon after developing the idea for Yumi, Sutherland began talking to her friend Evelyn Rusli, who was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal at the time, about the gap in the baby food market. Having grown up in a family that worked in healthcare Rusli was immediately intrigued by Sutherland’s ideas, leading the two to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
“You should always find a really great co-founder, because it’s almost like you jump off the cliff together,” Sutherland explains of her relationship with Rusli.
Besides an abundance of research on what was already out in the market, not much else about what would become Yumi had been dreamed up when Sutherland and Rusli decided to leave their jobs, but that didn’t stop them from diving right in.
You should always find a really great co-founder, because it’s almost like you jump off the cliff together.
“We picked a handful of zip codes in Los Angeles and started delivering food and we worked with nutritionists, and we worked with doctors in order to make better formulations of our food, and with chefs so that it was super palatable and tasty,” Rusli said.
It’s hard to start a business without some financial backing so the Yumi team turned to fundraising for help. Sutherland was pregnant at the time, so the two decided to do Skype calls with potential investors to eliminate the potential bias that could surround Sutherland’s dedication to her work.
We have this little immigrant motor inside of us, it’s like I just can’t turn it off. It’s knowing what they sacrificed, that they went through so much just to give you a better life, and it wasn’t for them.
“So we had this very clever way, I think, for the initial call, to help screen out the idea that you don’t know that I’m pregnant because there’s obviously a lot of bias around the idea, like ‘am I going to be at work?’, or ‘how dedicated are you going to be?’ And there’s all these things so we just like to remove all bias,” Sutherland said.
While both Sutherland and Rusli were passionate about creating a solution for accessible and nutritional baby food, they said their main motivator was their “immigrant motor.” Sutherland’s mother came to America as a refugee from Vietnam with $50 from the Red Cross and Rusli’s family immigrated to America in the 1970s from Indonesia.
“We have this little immigrant motor inside of us, it’s like I just can’t turn it off,” Sutherland said. “It’s knowing what they sacrificed, that they went through so much just to give you a better life, and it wasn’t for them.”
Hear more from Yumi co-founders Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli on episode #121 on “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.”