3 Tips on New Product Development from Kuli Kuli Founder and CEO Lisa Curtis

Recently, I asked Co-Founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli Lisa Curtis her opinion on how to develop a new product because she is currently operating a successful startup that is in the process of developing a new healthy energy drink. Lisa and her team crowdfunded $50,000 to launch their first product, Moringa Superfood Bar, and were featured in Forbes and Fast Company. Chelsea Clinton supports the work of Kuli Kuli--me too, because Lisa and I were colleagues at the White House.

Tip 1: Beta test your product--even prototypes, if capable--with real users and potential customers.

Marquis Cabrera: What is Kuli Kuli? What was your main reason for starting?
Lisa Curtis: Kuli Kuli is the first company to sell moringa food products in the US. I started working with moringa in the Peace Corps and found that the plant helped to improve my own nutrition. I founded Kuli Kuli to help more women in the developing world use moringa as a tool to improve nutrition and livelihoods, by eating it locally and earning a sustainable livelihood by selling moringa to the US market.

Marquis Cabrera: What are the benefits of moringa bar to the customer?
Lisa Curtis: Our Moringa Superfood Bars contain half a cup of leafy greens in every bar and are packed with calcium, iron, vitamins and a complete plant protein. It's like a multivitamin in a bar, except it tastes good.

Marquis Cabrera: How did you get your first product off the ground?
Lisa Curtis: We spent a lot of time in the stores [such as, Whole Foods] sampling our products to introduce it to customers and get their feedback in order to help us continue to improve the product.


Tip 2: "...Indiegogo is a great way to get a new product off the ground and gain a lot of new customers."

Marquis Cabrera: Why are you growing your product line with a drink, instead of another bar of sorts?
Lisa Curtis: We've found that there is a growing number of people who are seeking natural, low-sugar versions of caffeine to help power them through the day. These people are also the same people who are drinking green juices and green smoothies to get their greens on the go. We created the Moringa Green Energy Shots as the perfect solution to help those who want to get a healthy, natural boost of energy while also getting vitamin-rich moringa greens.

Marquis Cabrera: What stage of development are you in your new product development cycle?
Lisa Curtis: Kuli Kuli is currently fundraising [$100,000] to help make the product happen. We're getting really close to hitting our goal and just need a few more people to pre-order our Moringa Green Energy Shots to make it happen. [Note: If you would like to support Kuli Kuli's campaign, click here.]

Marquis Cabrera: Is IndieGoGo and crowdsourcing the best way to go get a new product funded?
Lisa Curtis: We've found that Indiegogo is a great way to get a new product off the ground and gain a lot of new customers. We've also found lots of investors appreciate seeing the market validation that crowdfunding provides. Brad Feld, a famous venture capitalist, learned of our crowdfunding success and, after trying our products, became an investor.

Tip 3: Leverage your communities to build a village that will help bring your new product to life.

Marquis Cabrera: What is the biggest lessons and/or barrier you learned while building a new product?
Lisa Curtis: The biggest lesson is that it takes a village to bring a new product to life. We've solicited ideas from all over the world to help us create the perfect product that consumers want.

Marquis Cabrera: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur on new product development process?
Lisa Curtis: Start talking to your consumers as early in the process as you can.