[me]&Goji brings customized cereal to NYC
From left, Carl Mikael Johansson, Adam Sirois and Alexander Renzi, founders of [me]&Goji.
As soon as Carl Mikael Johansson and Adam Sirois met, they knew they would start a business. They just weren’t sure what it would be.
After almost a year of brainstorming, in September 2008, the two former New York City roommates (who met on Craigslist), created [me]&goji, a custom cereal and granola company, with friend Alexander Renzi. The concept was simple: Allow customers to create their own, customized, artisan cereals with a few clicks of a mouse.
On the company’s Web site, meandgoji.com, shoppers drag and drop a cereal base — such as granola, muesli and oats — into a virtual bowl and add fruits, nuts, seeds and more. As they add ingredients, the price and nutritional information change.
In [me]&goji cereals, fruit juices are used in place of sweeteners, many ingredients are whole grain, organic, natural and sourced locally.
“The majority of our ingredients come from a national foods distributor that we are located next to [in New Hampshire], so we can literally walk over and pick up the ingredients,” says Johansson.
“The rest of the suppliers are located in upstate New York, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Being close to our suppliers means we can meet them in person (not only at food shows) and that makes a big difference in terms of getting good quality produce,” he says.
So far, their focus on quality has paid off. The company was cash-flow positive after four weeks. In fact, the Web site went down for a brief time last October, overwhelmed with orders.
Johansson says the company now mixes somewhere between 500-1,000 cylindrical
containers of cereal (they call them “capsules”) per month, with the average order containing two capsules and the average capsule costing around $12.
In addition to individual clients, [me]&goji is focusing on business-to-business sales.
Just last month, the cafe at The Sports Club/LA on the Upper East Side began selling single-serving packs for $4.50. They sell 10-20 packs per day. “I loved the line right away,” said nutritionist Lara Sutton, who created the cereal mixtures now on sale. “You can create a cereal that’s actually a whole meal. It really surpassed what’s on the market, even in the organic stores,” she said. Sutton was able to create balanced mixtures of fiber,
whole grain, fruits and fats.
It’s the ability to create well-balanced snacks that got Amy Tennery, 24, of Midtown, hooked. She orders from the site once a month. “I get hoops with cinnamon with two servings of coconut, currants and two servings of pistachio,” she says. “I eat it mostly as a snack.”
Another customer, Carlo Mirasol, 25, of the Lower East Side usually combines granola with coconut and almonds. The price, somewhere around $12, doesn’t bother him. “The stuff at Whole Foods is pretty pricey. I’m willing to pay the premium for making it the way I want.”
There’s also a more personalized customer service you won’t find at a specialty store. Tannery recalled e-mailing one of the owners about the benefits of cow’s milk versus soy milk. To her surprise, he got back to her right away.”
“They obviously really care about their clients,” Tannery said. “It always gets me to know I’m supporting a small business. It’s the Ben and Jerry’s effect,” Tannery said.
What you get for your money
[me]&goji granolas and mueslis come in 30-ounce (21-serving) sizes and their cereals come in 21-ounce (or 15-serving) sizes.
They start at just under $5 and go up to $30-plus, according to owner Carl Mikael Johansson.
There’s a shipping charge of $4.99, plus 99 cents extra for each additional capsule.
“If you look at it per serving, you’ll see that capsules are about 50 percent bigger than the average cereal box. The average serving, including shipping, is less than $1,” he said. “Yes, it’s an upscale product, but there’s big value in it.”