Who are you?
What is your business?
We are makers of yusō and Tri Onigiri – fresh, healthy, grab-and-go snacks distributed through healthy grocers, corporate and university food services and convenience stores.
Is there a story behind your business?
I first tried onigiri on a business trip in Japan and was hooked at first bite. Too many meetings, too little time and no time to eat: We refueled with these Japanese “on the go” sandwiches comprised of a filling, sticky rice and wrapped cleverly in nori to stay fresh and crispy. Rip the strip, pull the corners and you are ready for “yum on the run.”
What problem(s) are you/your business trying to help solve?
Our busy lives sometimes leave us feeding our pets better than we feed ourselves.
How is your company changing the world?
Cooking every meal from scratch with fresh, local ingredients is a lovely ideal. And often it’s just not feasible. Why sacrifice taste or nutrition or sustainability for convenience? With yusō and Tri – consumers never have to accept that trade-off.
Why do you like being a part of the bigger CI Works puzzle?
As a small business owner it’s wonderful to have other owners just a short walk away. Whether noodling a business decision or simply looking for some friendly moral support – it’s wonderful to be in a complex with others in my role.
What do you hope your company’s next milestone will be?
We are expanding our production, packaging and storage capacity. Last year we sold 25,000 onigiri in New England and this year we’re looking to see that number hit upwards of 50,000. Check out yusō at Terminal A or Terminal C next time at Logan!
What’s cool about your team?
3 out of the 5 of us are Vets and 3 out of the 5 of us are women. Nearly all my investors are women. Combined we are a really powerful combination of discipline and creativity.
Are there any causes you are passionate about? Yes, we are all committed to helping New Englanders lead a delicious, convenient, sustainable and healthy life on the go. Nosh with a conscience!
What is your biggest fear?
That the legacy food distribution infrastructure will prevail, which maximizes profits through demanding preservative-filled, months-long shelf-life, products. While consumers have been clear that they want fresh, clean-label, food … the embedded distribution infrastructure is diametrically opposed, viewing “fresh” as 21-day shelf life or more. Katsiroubas Produce, our distributor, is a woman owned distributor focused on fresh products and they are the exception in our experience.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
The team we’ve built is one of my proudest accomplishments.
What is something most people don’t know about you/your brand?
Artisibot(?!) What may be surprising to many is how much thought and care goes into such a small package. Designing our onigiri is like 3-dimensional chess … balancing 1. Taste/texture/appearance/scent; 2. Nutrition; and 3. Ingredient quality, food safety and sustainability. The daily care that our team devotes to every onigiri is significant. We are simultaneously artisanal (each filling is made by hand) and automated, using a very cool Japanese robot to form and wrap the onigiri. Artisanal robotics … Artisibot (?)
What advice do you have for other small businesses?
Don’t give up!