Joyce Zhu

CEO and Founder Numa Foods


What inspired you to start your business?

I used to work in management consulting and traveled heavily for work. I also have a major sweet tooth so when I was looking or a healthier alternative, my mom whipped up some of her favorite childhood treats but completely naturally with simple ingredients. They were the perfect solution and I realized, after sharing them with friends and co-workers, I wasn’t the only one with this problem.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Fail fast when you’re starting out and iterate from your failures – this process is key to perfecting your product for your ideal customer, but will seriously test your patience, which is also essential to practice.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

I think it’s important for young entrepreneurs to own their inexperience and seek help. There’s a wealth of experience industry veterans who are very willing and open to help lift the next generation of industry movers and leaning on them for direction has been extremely valuable. Should I have fallen victim to imposter syndrome and been afraid to reach out, I definitely would not be where I am today.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I am always learning and facing new challenges and growing and adapting to new circumstances. Of course, flexibility and freedom of decision are definitely luxuries of becoming a business owner early on in my career.

·What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

Continuously pushing my boundaries and testing my mental strength has been the most challenging part of growing this business, but I have become much stronger for it these past few years.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Diamonds need pressure.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

A 30 minute walk on a nice day outside, shower to follow and close with a good read.

What do you like about your workspace?

Lots of natural light and greenery to rest my eyes on!

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... take the time to let myself absorb the situation and hear other opinions to make an informed decision.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… everything will take longer than you think, be patient.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my laptop.

By this time next year, I will be… closing our first round.

To get my creative juices flowing, I …will go for a walk.

The best thing that happened to me last week was… receiving a call from an important buyer we have been waiting on.

Numa Foods

Numa means daughter (nu) and mother (ma) in Chinese as our story started in my mother's kitchen, where only fresh, delicious, and natural ingredients can be found. Our snacks honor the timeless tradition of a mother's cooking and pay homage to our Asian roots all the while keeping the modern, on-the-go consumer in mind. Our flagship product re-imagines the popular Asian nougat without any artificial ingredients and excessive sugar. By using only six natural, functional ingredients, we have created a candy that contains 40% less sugar than the standard candy bar, four grams of protein per serving and more than ten essential vitamins. It is truly a better-for-you nougat that still retains the famously creamy and chewy texture of classic Asian nougat.

Learn more.