August 9, 2022


Free For All Food

CT startup OCCO aims to spice up novice chef recipes

Many years just before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a pattern of home-certain novice cooks trying substantial cuisine dishes, Lisa Carson and Connie Wang noticed a barrier which is kept individuals from experimenting in the kitchen area.

It truly is the spices.

“Spices are an component category where by you have to invest in these huge jars,” Carson stated. “And when you buy a jar of say sumac because a recipe calls for a teaspoon of it, you most likely would not use it once again until eventually immediately after it is really absent stale.”

In reaction to that issue, Carson and Wang in 2018 commenced a business referred to as OCCO, which will make one-serve spices that are sealed in little packaging equivalent to Nespresso pods.

The two former New York PR professionals are now running OCCO out of a short term office area in Bridgeport, after the COVID-19 pandemic difficult strategies to base their functions in Hartford.

They have ties to the Capital Town mainly because they participated in the 2019 Hartford-based Stanley+Techstars Accelerator sponsored by New Britain toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker.

Nowadays, they break up their time involving New York and an condominium they hire in Bridgeport nearby their workspace.

New sells

OCCO’s packaging is built to block oxygen, light and heat, which trigger the critical oils in spices to oxidize and evaporate, ensuing in stale taste. Furnishing clean substances is a essential element of their price proposition. In actuality, the duo traveled pre-pandemic to southeast Asia on a a few-month sourcing mission to locate the very best attainable ginger, chili and other spices they could sell.

As they sourced spices and packaging products in the months after setting up the business a couple years back, Carson and Wang were searching for methods to appeal to possible traders and partners. That’s when Carson stumbled upon the Stanley+Techstars Accelerator, a business growth method for younger companies.

The accelerator introduced OCCO into the fold, and executives at Stanley created on their own offered for assistance and connections to feasible traders, Carson reported.

As of mid-January OCCO elevated $74,000 in an on line Kickstarter campaign Carson declined to disclose if her business has obtained any other funding.

“[Stanley Vice President of Business Development] Marty Guay and [CEO] Jim Loree, and that whole team has seriously welcomed us into their relatives with the means of a business at their scale,” Carson said.

These connections arrived in handy when the pandemic strike, Carson stated. Products OCCO utilizes for its spice pods are created in China, and travel limits manufactured it just about not possible to get their orders filled. But when Stanley offered the help of its worldwide procurement crew, OCCO was in a position to get what it wanted from China in short purchase, Carson said.

Connections, cooperation and mentorship like that are a big part of why Carson and Wang feel Connecticut — and precisely the Hartford location — is the position where by they want to develop OCCO.

“The reality of the issue is that we’re early adequate in our business that we want to listen and understand,” mentioned Carson, who extra she and Wang nevertheless intend to sooner or later lease work place in Hartford. “But we sense very assured that we have an understanding of this [spice] issue, and people today want this issue solved.”

Enterprise system

OCCO is getting ready to launch its product in February, selling direct-to-buyer on the web, Carson explained, but it’s not ruling out advertising at retail retailers in the foreseeable future.

The concentrate on market place is a mix of Millennials who are commencing to transfer over and above microwave foods into far more sophisticated recipes, and older vacant-nesters who are taking up cooking as a interest. Carson stated there is in all probability a good deal of crossover amongst people who use single-food component services like Blue Apron, and persons who would buy OCCO spices.

“I would say anyone who has utilized a meal package like Blue Apron [is in our target market],” Carson claimed.

As for earnings projections, or whether the ultimate purpose is to be obtained by a larger firm or turn out to be an Amazon-of-spices, Carson’s not sure.

“No person has a crystal ball,” Carson reported. “But we are not striving to just chug together, we are seeking to do some thing significant in this house.”