Search & Replace S02E11: Sumita Kumar

How healthy is your first meal of the day? Sumita Kumar noticed the breakfast most Americans eat is anything but nutritious, and she wanted better for her family. This led her on a journey of creating her own plant protein and superfood blend that can be added to your breakfast – and the birth of Plantnrgy. Plantnrgy has won accolades from nutrition experts and garners support from Sumita’s community. Find out how searching for the perfect nutritious breakfast turned Sumita into an entrepreneur on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if changing what your family eats every day inspires you to change how your community eats every day? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace

Sumita Kumar grew up in a family that faced way more than their fair share of critical health problems. 

[00:00:30] Sumita Kumar: So my family has a history of diabetes growing up, everybody that I saw around me, my grandparents, my parent, my dad, my uncles, my aunt, everybody had diabetes in the family and it was pretty chronic. I saw my grandmother die at a very early age. And then my dad. 

And everybody who passed away, it was because of diabetes. And so it felt like it was something that we need to do. But I never realized it was because of what I was seeing around in my family. 

[00:00:59] Joe Taylor Jr.: As Sumita left home to start a career and a family of her own, she started learning everything she could about creating a healthy daily routine, full of fresh food. And yet the challenges she faced finding quality ingredients for her meals, left her with some lingering concerns about what’s been happening to the American diet. 

[00:01:19] Sumita Kumar: I think the biggest shock was to see it in American culture, especially the breakfast. Because I currently work in corporate as well, but just to see people getting their coffee and something sweet, or one of those breakfast items. Which doesn’t look very healthy to me, or just, if they’re not eating breakfast, then of course they’re still hungry. So then just eating something from the vending machine. So that didn’t seem right to me. 

And I thought that is something that definitely needs to change a bit. Everybody has a busy life here. I understand that far, but I also feel that, you know, this is your first meal of the day and it requires to start your day more healthful. 

[00:02:00] Joe Taylor Jr.: In her corporate job, Sumita’s always thinking about systems. So she started applying that same kind of logic to streamline a way for her family to get nutrition and exercise throughout each day.

[00:02:13] Sumita Kumar: So I am an early riser and I have two kids and of course I used to go to the gym at 5:00 AM in the morning meeting and then come back and I’m hungry and I still have to get my kids ready. And I still have to get everything together and then get out of the door, my kids, and then I have to get to the work. And I’m super starving, but I just, so you know, I used to do my smoothies, but I did my smoothies and my gym introduced me to some of the protein mixes, which of course was an additive. Like it was an addition to just fruits and vegetables. And that was more to keep my, keep me full and just get that protein because up to workout and keep me full for longer. 

But then, so that is what I started doing because it was the easiest and the most convenient way to add to the smoothies, a protein in the morning. And also because our vegetarian, we definitely need some of that. But it was just not working because it was either overly sweet. 

And when I read the ingredient, I became more conscious understanding the labels and it was overwhelming. There’s, like maybe, I dunno, 30, 50 I don’t know how over half of the label on the jars was like ingredients and it was like tongue that I did not understand. And honestly, in our family, protein is not just for me, or adults. It is for everybody. We all have the same nutrition requirements. It is just something that I’m complimenting my food with. And why can’t I share this with my children? Like I was not feeling comfortable and definitely no way I could have shared that with my children. 

[00:03:50] Joe Taylor Jr.: Unsatisfied with the protein supplements, commonly available on the market, Sumita started researching how to make her own. And that’s when her project expanded. 

[00:04:01] Sumita Kumar: I can’t make big meals in the morning, and this is the best way to get started on the day, getting a smoothie or just adding something to my oatmeal or even yogurt, little things like that.

But then that was like what it was available wasn’t working for us. That is how we got started on our journey of creating our own protein and super food blend that we thought is a complete adding some more nutrition or complete nutrition in our first meal. 

Pea protein is something that gives us protein. And then hemp is a great thing. And then pumpkin seeds and things like that. And what are some of the super food mixes? So in our initial combination was more to just throwing single ingredients in our smoothie. And so our initial phase was just to get something that was healthier to stay fuller and met our requirements, which is like keeping us full, low added sugar, no extra preservatives and something that we can share with, like, my children. They were 10 and 3 at that time. 

I never ever thought that we would bring out a product. But after with all my conversations around at workplace, and then in my just general community, maybe there are more people who can take advantage of what we are currently using. So at that point, I started understanding more to see how this can become a product that can be shared with the broader audience. 

[00:05:28] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sumita didn’t set out to build a business from her experiments with protein supplements, but her Plantnrgy brand has won accolades from nutrition experts. And it’s picked up the support of government business incubators in her home state of North Carolina.

Getting to share what she’s learned with more families has earned Sumita some rewards she thinks are even more important than money. 

[00:05:50] Sumita Kumar: It’s more like that community feeling that comes along. They’re like, yeah, oh thank you for doing this. That’s like such genuine, authentic expressions that just, you know, motivate us all the time to continue to do what we are doing. 

A lot of customers do come to us and they’re like, oh, I have a celiac disease. I have this. I’m just going for a surgery and my doctor has advised they have to go for a smoothie and, but they don’t want anything artificial. They don’t want a emulsifier and a binder and other ingredients in their smoothie. So they’re like, oh, I’m going to use this one. 

Our dream is definitely to ensure that we support as many people as possible. I do see Plantnrgy as a driver in the plant-based revolution. So it just feels like, oh my God, if this is how I’m impacting your life, I’m blessed. I’m grateful. 

[00:06:44] Joe Taylor Jr.: That Sumita Kumar, founder of Plantnrgy. We’ve got links to Sumita’s website and more resources for healthy eating in our show notes and on our website at 

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.

[00:07:04] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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