Tina Chou, Margie Hunt, and Naz Babapour are the three women Co-Founders behind Soochi Drinks, the functional beverage company from Cohort A.
We recently sat down with Tina and Margie to get to know the founders a little more.
Tina has taken on the role of Chief Executive. She brings a wealth of media and sales experience to the team from previous roles in Media Agencies, where she worked on accounts like Toyota, Samsung and Disney. For the past 5 years, she’s been based in London, before moving back to NZ in July 2020.
“After working for almost a decade I just really wanted to start my own thing and London provided an environment that was great for start-ups. While there I met the right people to help me start a Biotech company that specialised in gut health analysis to give people personalised nutrition. It was out of that, that I started to think about how we could create an actual product that could help people with gut health problems.”
Soochi Drinks Co-Founders, Margie Hunt and Tina Chou.
Margie is the company's Food Technologist and hails from a dairy farm in Waikato. She cut her teeth as a food technologist working for The Pure Food Co, a company which develops products for people who have difficulty eating or need high amounts of protein in small portions.
When we asked the women about what drives the company to succeed, Tina explained that it all links back to her experience in London.
“I was involved in Nylos, the gut health analysis biotech company, whose vision was to help people with gut health problems like IBS, but I thought the opportunity was much bigger because of personalised nutrition as a whole – everyone needs that. It links directly to functional eating and functional eating is what will make us happier and healthier. That’s why we wanted to create a product that links to the testing and analysis of that idea.”
I really wanted to get into that space and at the time we had loads of different ideas - I mean our final product is Soochi - but they were all in the functional food and beverage space for wellness. That’s what drives us as a company.”
However, while the idea has been strong, the girls have faced their fair share of challenges. Starting off joking Tina said “I mean, there is soooo many (group laughter). It depends on what department we’re talking about.”
“Or what day of the week (group laughter again!)” Margie adds.
The women go on to talk about learning to work together, obstacles in product formulation, and developing their prototype, quoting ‘you can’t just have a baby and expect it to be walking and talking the next day - it takes time.’
Every challenge has a lesson and the Soochi team’s biggest ones were learning to be adaptable and understanding how to pivot. They found the cultural differences between London and Auckland hard and learning about engaging with investors was a whole new experience to get their heads around.
Yet the women have stuck it out and remained motivated, stating that it’s the team that fuels their motivation. They elaborate to explain how their synergy uplifts, complements and drives them all forward.
Margie said that “having two really passionate people involved and building on the skills that each of us brought to the company, has been really motivating in itself.”
So what’s in Soochi’s future? Over the next 5 years, they have plans to expand within Australasia and to South-East Asia. Ultimately for the team it comes back to why they started the company. The core of what the team wants to deliver is functional food and beverage products that help people to live happier and healthier lives.