In traditional founder fashion, Aaron Johnstone and Victor Courarie-Delage, co-founders of Peacasa and good friends, co-created an untapped and innovative idea that changed the trajectory of their careers and gave them the noteworthy titles of entrepreneurs. The founding pair met in university, where they both studied marketing and became close friends who stayed in touch post-graduation. On a trip to Courarie-Delage’s home country of France, the co-founders sparked their craving to build what is now known as Peacasa – chickpea chips inspired by a popular French street food snack, chickpea flour crepes, called Socca.
Recognizing the sparse market of healthy and nutritional alternatives for potato chips available in Canada, the pair created Peacasa chickpea chips through an extensive trial and error process in the comfort of their home kitchens. Creating everything that a potato chip wishes it were, Peacasa chickpea chips are made of only three simple ingredients; chickpeas, olive oil, and sunflower oil. Peacasa chips offer more protein and less carbs than traditional potato chips, satisfying hunger with all the health benefits without sacrificing the yummy flavour or that traditional chip-crunching satisfaction.
When Peacasa officially launched, the chips were still being made by hand in the home kitchens of the founders, making 40 bags per day and selling out across farmers markets and local vendors each week. With its rise in popularity and continued expansion on the horizon, Peacasa’s ability to scale into larger manufacturing was snagged by the lack of machinery that existed to make these delicate, one-of-a-kind chips. Manufacturing products that already existed for similar recipes weren’t suited for this specific recipe, and risking the perfected Peacasa flavours to fit the manufacturer mold was not an option for the founders. With an opportunity to move their manufacturing into The Grove, a well-known manufacturing hub in London, Ontario, they started the process of custom building their machines to scale their production line to make 570 bags per day, with new machinery on its way to scale their production to an impressive and game-changing 3000 bags per day.
Peacasa’s products can now be found in over 100 stores across Canada, and it recently launched an ecommerce platform, peacasa.com, for serial snackers to get their hands on their favourite snacks whenever they want. In London, you can find Peacasa chips on the shelves of some of the city’s health and nutrition shops, including On the Move Organics, Quarter Master Natural Foods, and Remark Fresh Markets.
Peacasa is a recent i.d.e.a. Fund recipient -The Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), provided Innovation Guelph with $10 million to lead the delivery of the i.d.e.a Fund in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) across Southwestern Ontario, including TechAlliance in London. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes, and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions.
“We’re using this funding in a few places to really scale ourselves in locally driven markets,” says Johnstone. “We intend to switch our packaging supplier to be closer to home, mitigating our fuel and shipping impacts and focusing on the importance of locally made products throughout every step of the factory line.” As the company continues to customize its manufacturing plant and use opportunities like the i.d.e.a. Fund to scale revenue, Peacasa is thoroughly familiar with consistent innovation and the importance of a product people can believe in.
As founders find their way through the ever-changing, often scary career path of entrepreneurship, they show perseverance in small ways that scale into big businesses. Johnstone and Courarie-Delage are perfect examples of this. They saw a gap in the market, they spent countless hours of time, energy and love perfecting the product they believed in, and they took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship and never looked back. With that leap came hiccups, and the need for consistent, fresh ideas and the ability to be malleable with the changing landscape of business ownership and manufacturing. As they start to see their hard work turn into exciting growth and their goals of getting Peacasa chickpea chips onto the shelves of larger stores, these founders continue to believe wholeheartedly in the perfected product they’ve built, and that dedication will propel their innovation towards success.
To learn more about Peacasa and to get chickpea chips shipped right to your door, go to peacasa.com