The peaple behind Green Pea Cookie (as they like to call themselves) have a goal, and that is to remind us of life’s little pleasures. They’ve turned an everyday item — the unsuspecting green pea cookie (if you haven’t already guessed from their company name) — into a hit in the United States.
They initially started a campaign on Kickstarter with the aim of raising $5000, but never would they have expected to achieve over 500% of their target within a month.
And since reaching their #25thousandpeacookie sales goal, they’ve been planning for an upcoming green pea cookie picnic at Dolores Park. The location was chosen to commemorate the first time they conducted taste tests of their famous goodie, which took place at — you guessed it — Dolores Park itself.
Starting out small
“Some of the people around us were pretty skeptical initially. Being in the NUS Overseas College Silicon Valley programme, we’ve learnt a lot about tech start ups so it surprised people that I was doing a food business instead. We also found it difficult to pitch for grants because the focus of the local start up scene is not on food businesses,” explained the team — which comprises Tan Ying Quan and his US-based team mates Fiona Lee and Larissa Russell — when we asked them about how it all began.
It’s not surprising that they’ve met with their fair share of critics; after all, how exciting can a green pea cookie really be?
But like the Hulk, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Shrek, the green colour of the cookies only scratches the surface of the complex flavours that fill each bite: Peater (the name of the original flavour of the cookie) is crunchy, salty, and sweet. Add in some chocolate or cranberry, though, and you get a new wave of flavours — and a new set of cute character names, which are Dimpea and Penelopea respectively.
The sweet and healthy vegan treats — which contain a mere 100 calories in six cookies — were created in the humble kitchen of Ying Quan’s home. He later adopted and refined the recipe to make the cookies that are marketed by Green Pea Cookie today, after his American co-founders cleared the box in a matter of minutes.
You would have thought Ying Quan grew up loving green pea cookies, but this discovery came as a surprise for the Singaporean as well, who only tried it for the first time when he was in his twenties.
“I only tried green pea cookies about 2 to 3 years ago during Chinese New Year and I was amazed by its great taste! I was surprised how I hadn’t discovered this cookie earlier. The taste was etched into my mind. In every subsequent Chinese New Year, I made sure that I would snag a box of it.”
And in addition to their focus on taste, the team has also stepped away from using the red-capped plastic containers that your aunties bring over during the Chinese New Year. Instead, they have opted for environmentally-friendly packaging that is made of brown paper bags, which will add a touch of hipster chic to your snack.
Moving up fast
Till today, the founders of Green Pea Cookie continue to get the jitters in anticipation of their next sale. Take a look at the top 10 things they did on Kickstarter, and you’ll see how nervous they were when they were waiting for their first backers.
“This is the first time that we ran a crowdfunding campaign and we were initially worried that people may not want to pledge because they do not understand the crowdfunding concept,” said Ying Quan. In a market saturated with healthy eating options, the team was also worried that they would not be able to stand out.
Despite all the anxiety they had about raising enough funds for Green Pea Cookie, however, their fears were unfounded as it did not take them long to get their first backer.
“When we hit our funding goal, I remember that we were on Skype cheering. Larissa and Fiona hugged each other and I was a little sad that I couldn’t join them. Our celebration was brief though. Shortly after we were fully funded, we quickly started to work on our stretch goals.”
The use of Kickstarter has helped the team to expand Green Pea Cookie into the US market.
“Initially, we had a larger base of Singapore backers but now, about 85 percent of our supporters are U.S backers. This is a good foundation for us when we eventually launch our online store,” says Ying Quan.
Hungry for more
These cookies may not have overtaken the chocolate chip cookie in terms of popularity just yet, but its founders envision big dreams for their little cookies.
Apart from sharing peasitivity with their cheery branding and delicious cookies, they want to be a socially conscious enterprise with hopes of having a production facility that employs special needs adults both in Singapore and the US, and even enter the European market in the long run.
Yet even as these guys have their sights set high, they look forward to the simple life. Ying Quan speaks for the team when he says “eventually, all of us want to be farmers and have our own organic pea farm… while running Green Pea Cookie of course.”
And when asked about their secret to success?
“I think if Green Pea Cookie focuses on delivering great tasting cookies, innovate on our offerings and provide an engaging customer experience, we stand a chance of crafting out our own niche. Can we stand on par with the other big brands in 4 to 5 years’ time? I certainly believe so!”
If you aren’t craving for some green pea cookies by now, it’s probably because you already have a pack of them in your hands already.