Maheb Nathoo is on a roll.
The Soyaworld Inc. CEO, who parlayed an idea and $500,000 in startup capital into a company that now generates $100 million in annual revenue, recently expanded his company’s horizons into the international marketplace and, on November 4, won the Burnaby Board of Trade’s Business of the Year Award.
Nathoo’s embarked on his Soyaworld venture in large part because one of his daughters is lactose-intolerant.
It was 1997, and Nathoo was Dairyworld Foods’ vice-president of finance.Management meetings were filled with strategizing about how Dairyworld could expand sales in the dairy sector at a time when the population was aging and there were fewer children drinking milk.
Nathoo suggested the company develop dairy alternatives. He said he had to go to Dairyland’s board three times before it gave him the go-ahead.
“It was almost like they were saying, ‘If you like this idea, then you do it,’” he said. “I took the challenge and said, ‘Sure.’”
Dairyworld provided Nathoo with $250,000 in 1998 to launch Soyaworld Inc. Chippiing in the same amount was Sunrise Soya Foods, a 53-year-old Vancouver-based business originally founded by Chinese immigrants who correctly gambled that Vancouver’s Asian population wanted locally made tofu.
Sales in Soyaworld’s first year were about $3 million, and Nathoo increased that to around $25 million in 2000.