Former international finance lawyer and world traveler Anish Sheth has lived in locales as exotic as Hong Kong. Inspired by the tastes he encountered on his worldly adventures, in 2011, he founded World Peas, a line of snacks similar to popular wasabi peas.
The University of Texas grad knew Austin was a good spot to launch a startup, and so began his foray into all-natural, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free snackdom. He starts with large marrowfat green peas imported from the United Kingdom, then dries and lightly fries them. The crunchy peas are then doused in seasonings.
Flavors range from Sichuan Chili — his sentimental favorite for its “tingling, numbing sensation and lemony flavor” — Hungarian Garlic, Santa Barbara Ranch, Texas BBQ and Kansas City Bacon. His current favorite is Bombay Curry, a perfect complement for a cold beer, which has a turmeric flavor reminiscent of Indian street food, he says.
Even with so many unique flavors, Sheth’s customers started asking for a more traditional wasabi pea. They also desired smaller packaging, which would allow the company to expand into convenience stores and vending machines.
“It wasn’t really in our budget, so Kickstarter seemed like the way,” he says. So, with guidance from the Incubation Station, Sheth launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to expand his business.
Finding all-natural wasabi flavoring that meets the company’s standards has been challenging, but the new flavor will be ready by the end of this year or early 2014.
Until then, World Peas will continue to grow. Just last month, Sheth added two more people to his team — for a grand total of three. The products are currently available at all Whole Foods Markets in the Southeast, as well as retailers as far away as Washington State.
In Austin, World Peas are available at Royal Blue Grocery and Wheatsville Co-op, among others. On choosing Austin as a home base for his business, Sheth says “It has been the perfect place for it, and it’s been fun to watch it grow.”