A Startup Backed By Kellogg’s VC Arm, Kuli Kuli, Introduces Americans To A New Superfood, Moringa

When Lisa Curtis was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, she discovered moringa, a green with high nutritional content that’s popular in Africa and elsewhere. When she returned to the United States, she decided to start a company that would introduce it to U.S. consumers – and provide better incomes to farmers in Africa. With her friends Valerie Popelka, Jordan Monchamont and Anne Tsuei, she launched Kuli Kuli (named for a popular peanut snack in West Africa) on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $53,000. Today, the Oakland, California-based startup sells moringa bars, powders and energy shots at Whole Foods, Safeway-Albertsons, Target and thousands of other stores nationwide. With $4.5 million in total funding – led by the VC arm of food giant Kellogg’s, known as Eighteen94 Capital – Curtis expects Kuli Kuli’s revenues this year to top $2 million. In a conversation that has been edited and condensed, Curtis, 29, spoke about how she convinced retailers to stock a new “superfood” and landed an investment from Kellogg.