New York-based Lupii, which is all about plant-based protein and harnessing the power of the Lupini bean, just raised $150K via its crowdfunding campaign. The campaign has received support from over 400 investors in just a few weeks!
Lupii currently offers its customers beautifully packaged, vegan, on-the-go snack bars in exciting flavors like ‘Tahini Lemon Cranberry’ and ‘Cashew Ginger Pumpkin Seed’. The ‘small but mighty Lupini Bean’ is how the Lupii team describes the hero ingredient in their product.
We spoke to Isabelle Steichen, CEO & co-founder of Lupii who grew up right here in Luxembourg before moving to the US. Isabelle founded Lupii with co-founder Alexandra Dempster, who was previously Global Marketing Manager at PepsiCo. Their shared passion for plant-based eating motivated them to launch Lupii in New York in 2019.
A challenging start
The Covid-19 pandemic happened just a few weeks after the launch of Lupii which meant that the team had to quickly adapt to these challenging circumstances. Originally, the brand’s plan was to focus on retail and in-store product availability, but the pandemic meant they had to quickly take everything online and this had an impact on their strategy, right from product to packaging and marketing.
While this sounds like a tough challenge for a brand in its early days, CEO and co-founder Isabelle felt that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It brought them even closer to the brand’s customers, which might have been more difficult in a retail scenario. The team was also able to gather more data on consumption and get direct feedback from their customers. In fact, Isabelle told us they recently updated their packaging based on this invaluable and direct customer feedback.
All about protein
Lupini beans are already well-loved in the Mediterranean part of Europe where people enjoy them as antipasto, a pickled snack, in yogurt or in a bar alongside drinks. When asked why the Lupii duo chose the US market for their launch, Isabelle explained that consumption habits in the US market make it uniquely positioned for their product.
Americans are culturally very focused on their protein intake and are also functional about their eating habits, always asking the question “what does this do for my body?” The Lupini bean is a complete protein which means it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids we need. It is also easily digested by the human body and this combination makes it superior to Soy, which is the current favorite for many plant-based vegetarian and vegan communities.
Besides, soy has been plagued by many GMO (genetically modified) issues in the US which makes the American market ripe for a better, more natural plat-based option. Isabelle feels that a powerful second wave of plant-based eating is coming to the US and Lupii will be right at the forefront of this trend. Their recent crowdfunding campaign success suggests that customers and investors agree!
Connecting with customers
We also asked Isabelle why they opted for crowdfunding, given that they are already backed by Human Ventures, a NY based venture fund. She said, “while we are already backed by venture capital, most channels of investing can make it difficult for our actual customers to invest in Lupii. Through this crowdfunding campaign, we wanted to provide access to our customers, friends and family who can now invest in Lupii, grow with us and be part of this journey.”
“We’re both extremely passionate about plant-based eating as a whole and not just plant-based bars. I think this passion comes through and this is what our investors and customers are connecting with,” she added.
The team plans to use the funds they have raised to invest in retail by focusing on key partnerships for in-store product placement, promotions, and demos. They are also considering adding new flavors to their product offering and Isabelle mentioned that she developed the original flavors for the current snack bars herself! The Lupii team hopes that by 2022 they will also launch Lupii in other formats like crisps for example.
Fun fact: She also told us that Lupini beans were a favorite for gladiators in their time, since they needed a lot of protein!! Well, I am not dueling anyone, but I would still love to add some 100% natural protein to my diet.