Water lilies are plants more commonly associated with serene ponds; koi fish swimming below and dragonflies hovering above. But now you may be associating water lilies with a snack in front of the TV.
“With health markets changing, with a lot of the health-conscious consumers looking for something healthier, that’s where we started having a lot of these conversations.” Gurveer Bahia teamed up with roommate Sucheta Khuranan to bring a new snack food to market.
The fourth year Western University kinesiology students have launched Arise N’ Go, which offers popped water lily seeds. Khuranan says the product was inspired by her family history in India and a mother trying to look out for her daughter.
“I was like, ‘Mom, I’m tired of Tim Hortons and I’m tired of eating chips as I study at the library.’ So, that’s just something she introduced me too. And I introduced Gurveer, and the rest is history.”
The pair also believe pandemic snacking may have dealt a blow to many people’s efforts to eat nutritious foods. They say the water lily seeds are roasted, not cooked in oil, and are light and crunchy like popcorn; but have less fat, fewer calories and 50 per cent more protein than popcorn.
They started working with flavor combinations and planned a soft launch in May. But Khuranan says they were caught off guard by what happened even before the launch.
“We were going to launch on May 19th, the morning, and May 18th we got a retailer reaching out to us saying, ‘Hey, we saw your Instagram. We saw that you guys are in London. We would love to have your product up in our store.’ That was just really validating.”
There is no shortage of snack food alternatives out there. So, with no business experience, Bahia and Khuranan turned to Propel Entrepreneurship, a Western University business incubator. Bahia says they have had Western business minds helping them every step of the way.
“There’s an accelerator program that’s offered at Western and we were encouraged to apply for that. We were holding ourselves back because we were like, ‘I don’t think we’re ready. We’re not ready to launch.’ But they encouraged us. They said, ‘Hey, do it.’”
The snacks, with three flavor combinations, are currently in 11 stores and 2 markets in the London area. They are also available on line and Bahia and Khuranan are already making plans for further expansion.