Entrepreneurs under 25: YUMiBOX’s Zoey Li


In an ecosystem fueled by buzzwords and technological hype, it’s easy to forget that startups are not a new thing. Entrepreneurs have been around far longer than the start of the first accelerator program, they’ve just had different job titles. And many people never consider the fact that starting a medical or health practice means starting a business. For YUMiBOX’s Zoey Li, the jump from dreams of her own dietician practice to the reality of a nutrition-based food delivery service was natural.

“I studied at McGill’s dietetic program under the Faculty of Environmental and Agricultural Sciences. I just graduated in December, and I created the startup with my co-founder who is doing her PhD in nutrition right now at McGill,” Li told MTLinTECH.

“At first I thought was going to open up a clinical practice, and then I saw the need for a practical solution for the population I wanted to work with.”

That solution was YUMiBOX, a monthly subscription service that delivers healthy carbohydrates in the form of varying oats and grains. The service hopes to service a knowledge gap in the population about good carbs, which are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Each box includes a bag of YUMiGRAINS, a bag of YUMiOATS, and recipes to make balanced meals for $29.99 each.

But Li’s business sense goes back much further. Before the founding of YUMiBOX, she had another startup she went through the Dobson Cup with.

“That one fell through, but I learned a lot from that startup. We learned the shortcomings, such as the lack of scalability, and from there we rebuilt YUMiBOX. We kind of focused on the same target population but through a different method.”

And before her first startup, even before dreams of starting her own practice, Li was generating money for charity in high school.

You always hear that business is like a dog eat dog world, it’s really harsh, but what I was really surprised to understand is that as part of the Montreal startup ecosystem, everyone is very open and helpful.

“If I really really think about it, I feel like I had the entrepreneurial spirit since high school. I created a club where we made silk flowers, and at the end of the two years we donated over $2,000 to local charities, just from making these silk roses and selling them. So I think part of it is that I have the entrepreneurial spirit, but i didn’t know at the time it was called that. Even in university I never thought I would create a ‘startup’. But I did know that I wanted to have my own thing, and not work a 9-5 job.”

As someone who has participated in both the Dobson Cup and programs at District 3, Li is someone who knows firsthand how supportive and helpful the Montreal startup ecosystem can be.

“Before I started being part of the startup world, I thought startups were very very intimidating because it’s a completely new field and you’re starting something from scratch. You always hear that business is like a dog eat dog world, it’s really harsh, but what I was really surprised to understand is that as part of the Montreal startup ecosystem, everyone is very open and helpful. We’ve had so many mentors help us along the way that we wouldn’t be able to be here without them.”

Even as the company continues to refine and grow, Li has continued to find new opportunities within the startup ecosystem.

“We actually entered another competition. The Entrepreneurs Organization has a global student entrepreneurship competition, and we were very lucky that I am the Quebec representative for that and we’re going into nationals in February. So all these competitions and all these networking opportunities have really opened up our eyes and our possibilities to grow.”

To order your own YUMiBOX, click here.

 

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