COMPANY: SoCo (Seeds of Collaboration)
MISSION: We power the tahini revolution, seeding change in kitchen and communities.
LOCATION: New York
HERSTORY: I grew up in Israel and served in the Israeli air force as a commander of School of Aviation Studies. I have an LL.B (Law) and Bachelor in Accounting from Tel Aviv University. Then I did my Master’s at New York University, receiving an M.S. in Business Analytics. I moved to the United States seven years ago, while relocating with my previous job at Procter & Gamble.
We aspire to become a brand that people associate with delight, health and collaboration between “enemies,” thereby raising awareness for our unique cause.
Can you tell us about your co-founder?
My co-founder is Yonatan Sela, who also grew up in Israel. He was the founding team member at three startups—one was acquired and another received $25 million in funding, and is active and growing.
When did you launch SoCo and how difficult was it to develop from concept to launch?
I built SoCo while building my family two years ago. I was reflecting on my life while being pregnant with my daughter. Then I decided to stop waiting and go after what I want, and to create a venture that represents what I believe in. Then I quit my job and began building SoCo. Over the past two years I have been raising two children from nothing into something—my daughter and SoCo. They have both been difficult and extremely rewarding. I am proud of SoCo’s direct and indirect impact on people’s bodies and minds. I am working around the clock to make it touch more people.
What motivated you to launch a business around Tahini?
I’ve been a tahini addict for many years. Growing up in Israel, tahini is served in at least one meal every day and everywhere. It’s fabulous taste, simplicity, nutritional value and unique ability to upgrade almost any dish, made it a household staple. It was a popular superfood across the region before superfoods were even a thing.
Give us the backstory on the name SoCo.
SoCo (Seeds of Collaboration) is an Israeli-Palestinian partnership delivering delicious and nutritious plant-based products, starting with authentic tahini. We started SoCo to address two pain points that impact millions of people:
- No authentic, stone-ground tahini is available in the U.S.
- Lack of economic (or other) collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians, perpetuates the violent conflict in the region.
A Palestinian family produces our flagship product, SoCo Tahini. They have been making stone-ground tahini for five generations, using the highest quality Humera Sesame Seeds. We bring an authentic, smooth, nutty version of tahini—a nutrient-dense superfood—to America for the first time. SoCo looks, feels and tastes different from any other tahini currently available in the U.S. market.
We also support a non-profit that connects young Israeli and Palestinian students using the common language of technology and entrepreneurship. Every SoCo product sold helps fund a student startup, seeding more partnerships like ours. These days we’re expanding to more plant based products and launching our hemp extract line.
On your website you talk about economic collaborations helping build bridges between communities. Can you explain further?
SoCo is a double bottom-line business, and our mission is to create sustainable economic collaboration between people in the Middle East. We aspire to become a brand that people associate with delight, health and collaboration between “enemies,” thereby raising awareness for our unique cause. SoCo becoming a household name can help change the narrative, to redefine working with the other side to be associated with success.
Moreover, we are giving a new generation the opportunity to work together from an early age and hopefully grow other ventures that similarly are created by Israelis and Palestinians working together and creating sustainable businesses.
What’s next for SoCo?
We’re expanding to additional products, including flavored Hemp Extract products that combine natural processing and scientific research for high performing hemp extract oil crafted for a purpose. There will be more information on this coming to socoplantpower.com.
Currently what is your strategy for promoting your business?
We’ve been focused mostly on our Direct To Consumer sales online. We established an increasingly efficient supply chain, cost effectively delivering the product from a scalable manufacturing facility with high capacity in Palestine, through Israel to the US and all the way to the consumer’s doorstep.
We are mostly bootstrapping SoCo, and to date, we have built a fast-growing community of 15,000 engaged members on Instagram.
My biggest fear is not failing, but not trying. I would rather live every day knowing that I’m pursuing my dreams and passions rather than not doing so because I’m afraid to take a risk.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?
Running your own business means that you’re on a constant roller coaster with so many ups and downs. It becomes even more important to surround yourself with people that elevate you and inject positive energy into your life, even if it means taking a step back from some people, which can prove challenging.
In terms of handling the mental side of this roller coaster, my biggest fear is not failing, but not trying. I would rather live every day knowing that I’m pursuing my dreams and passions rather than not doing so because I’m afraid to take a risk.
What is your favorite quote?
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne
For more information on Goni and SoCo, visit eatsoco.com.