Healthy Gourmet Noodles

Increasing consumer access to high quality, great-tasting, nutritious meals without the hassle of preparation is the main goal of -healthy- instant ramen startup, Noodie Foods.

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They make healthy, gourmet, shelf-stable meals that are a far cry from your average supermarket selection. The instant packets from Noodie Foods provide convenience-seeking consumers with healthy, instant, and delicious meals. 

Isabel Khoo, the founder of Noodie Foods, came up with the idea for their first product, a healthy instant noodle, after spending many long nights at Harvard Business School eating  cup noodles—and then discovering just how unhealthy it was: “I didn’t realized all instant noodles are fried and I was waking up with a sodium headache.”

With the memory of slurping down her grandmother’s homemade soup noodles, she thought there must be something better, and her business acumen kicked in. During winter break, Khoo booked a trans-Pacific flight. “I met with every single instant noodle manufacturer across Asia,” Khoo says, discovering once she was there that new technology made it possible to create more nutritious and tastier results.

Upon her return, she converted her dorm room into a small-scale manufacturing facility (“A college campus is the perfect place to set up a test factory,” she says) and launched her online business in January 2020.

Things were barely off the ground when the pandemic hit, and Khoo faced new challenges. Yet, unexpectedly, her supply chain was well set up to withstand the disruption. Sourcing from small specialty vendors with back-ups already in place across different regions, she was able to sub in and out different suppliers as the pandemic began to unfold with differing geographic impact. This allowed her team to pivot quickly, and, as homebound consumers began stocking their pandemic pantries with long-shelf-life comfort food, Khoo’s Noodie Foods orders suddenly took off.

As the rest of the founders in the Multicultural Innovation Lab, an accelerator for multicultural and women-led tech and tech-enabled startups, Isabel has faced unique challenges in this new COVID-led environment. She has also found ways to survive—and even thrive—thanks to a combination of luck, meticulous planning, and an ability to pivot quickly, as well as invaluable support and advice from their mentors at Morgan Stanley.

Khoo admits luck played no small part. She didn’t implement her diversified supply chain thinking they would be less vulnerable to this sort of once-in-a-lifetime disruption, but rather for their development opportunities. “With smaller manufacturers that can produce smaller batches, the rate of innovation tends to be higher. It means you can take more risk because one production run doesn’t mean you then have to move one million units of inventory.” Still, someone who tried 1,000 soup recipes and 500 noodle varieties before settling on her product offerings wasn’t about to be blindsided by just another speed bump. “With a startup, everything is chaos, so your mindset is always, ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’,” she says.


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