Sustainability Spotlight: Adam Kukoff
Adam is a passionate entrepreneurial Sustainable Millennial who has created a unique superfood bar system with a unique twist. NUTSÓLA is the original DIY Superfood Bar™ that provides a healthy mix of 100% real ingredients and a simple DIY process. This allows the consumer to make their own superfood bars at home. NUTSÓLA aims to provide the freshest bars on the market by providing a patent pending molding kit to form perfectly proportioned bars, and the NUTSÓLA Bar Maker or oven mat, which are used to dehydrate the bars. Adam is enabling consumers to have access to fresh, healthy food options--chew on that.
Hi Adam, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, and went to school at Millburn High. My early years I grew up playing a ton of sports, all seasons baseball, basketball, soccer. I went to Syracuse, which was fun, big Orange man--or just Orange. My first job out of school was working in IT Consulting where I was in sales but wasn’t really that interested in what I was doing. I’m currently working full time at a Japanese trading company where I manage a sales channel for different product lines in security and photo. Totally off beat from what I’m doing here. It’s definitely a great experience--I get to travel a lot, meet new people, and get great exposure.
What was the inspiration for NUTSÓLA?
NUTSÓLA has been years in the making, and I really wanted to share it with everyone. So I co-founded the company with my father. His diet used to be vastly different--he wasn’t eating the best. He then started making food at home. He started with grinding up fruit and nuts. He started off making balls, and then he started on the bars. I’ve had thousands of them. They are really healthy and taste incredible.
The bars are easy, consistent, and are made the same way every time so that you know it’s fresh. We aren’t currently looking to distribute it in stores yet because we want to focus on direct to consumer. I am a fan of bars in general and like to support brands with real ingredients that don’t try to fool consumers. But on the other hand, there are so many products with added sugars and preservatives hiding in the packaging and labels.
What did you learn in your research when you switched over from your former diet to your current one?
I'm not a nutritionist, but I stay away from refined sugars, and advocate for doing simple things with simple ingredients. These have a great effect on energy levels and how you feel about yourself.
Have you looked into different types of packaging from recycled materials?
In terms of packaging, this product has a reduced amount of packaging because it comes with just the bag mix. So right off the bat, you are producing less waste. We looked in options for recycled or paper options, but it’s not ideal for this product. We might look into that in the future.
What is the best part of creating this product?
I love the excitement of creating something from scratch and providing a great product to people. Watching the joy they experience, improving their lives, and solving a problem. There are people that seek out products with simple ingredients that have a hard time finding them. So we are solving a problem and filling a need. It’s just exciting to see people enjoying the product. A few weeks ago we did a food festival, Best of Brooklyn Food and Beer, and we gave samples out the entire day. 99% of people loved the bar. Everyone loved the bar-- except for one girl who didn’t like cinnamon. But she claimed that she’s very sensitive to cinnamon, so we took it in stride.
What has been the most difficult part of creating this business?
Getting everything prepared for the Kickstarter was stressful because you have to make sure you have every component down for the launch--it’s a tedious process. Then you promote it hard and reach out to everyone you know. I thought we had a great page, and the video turned out pretty well. It was hard to create all of that while working a full-time job. My dad does all the back-end stuff and I’m the taste tester. I the front end work--the marketing and sales. We outsource some things, but we do all we can. Good people are everything. Next steps are building even better, bigger teams.
Tips for entrepreneurs looking to engage in crowdfunding:
It’s amazing for any startup to get on Kickstarter--but it’s important to keep realistic expectations. So much financial support came from close family and friends. There were some outside funders, but the platform isn’t ideal to get random people behind the product. It’s not geared for that. It’s a good platform to drive awareness and to give people the ability to provide funding. Easy funding enables us to have access to a steady cash flow. As far as campaign success, it needs to be a unique product or to solve a legitimate problem.
Where did you come up for the name of NUTSÓLA?
My dad just came up with it one day--it rolled right off the tongue. When we went to buy the domain, we saw a nut company actually owned it, but wasn’t really doing anything with it. So I had to negotiate with this lady after failing to come up with a better name that wasn’t taken. The name is just so smooth and goes hand in hand with the product.
Where can readers find you next?
We are doing another event on February 24th in New York, the Slate Food festival. If people want to buy the starter kit, there are still 7 days until it runs out. If you want to purchase the product, this would be your first chance. Our website is www.nutsola.com, which currently just directs you back to the Kickstarter.
The bars can be made in four easy steps and they are delicious for anyone who enjoys cooking at home and getting crafty in the kitchen. These bars are preservative free, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and have no added sugar. Guilt-free goodness! Check out their Instagram to stay up-to-date with their food festivals and events. Stay sustainable, millennials and keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram (@sustainable.millennial) for an exciting giveaway.