This Pasta is Taking on the Gluten Free Market From Detroit

By Amanda Lewan on August 5th, 2014 / Comments

Tonight people all around the U.S. will hear about this new pasta made in Detroit.

Banza is a local food startup that makes pasta from chickpeas, a brilliant idea adding a new and healthy twist for pasta lovers. They were just featured on CNBC’s shark tank like show Restaurant Startup airing tonight at 10pm. 

While regular pasta is mostly empty carbs, Banza was created to have 13g of protein and 7g of fiber in every serving. It has been a hit so far with rave reviews and you’ll see in over 200 Meijer stores this Fall. We caught up with Co-founder Brian Rudolph who started Banza with his brother Scott Rudolph to learn more about the product.

Where did the idea for Banza come from? 

“While at first it was really just a hobby, I started making Banza to solve a personal need. I’m gluten free and care a lot about nutrition. There aren’t any commercially available pastas that fit the bill. So I started making my own pasta from chickpeas in my kitchen,” said Brian.

“At the same time, I was dead-set on the idea of creating an ambitious company. Something that could be worth $1 billion one day. I always thought I would start a technology company, until I realized how big of an opportunity chickpea pasta could be.”

I see you are based in Detroit. Is your product made locally?

“We’d like to think that Banza is the next generation of pasta, similar to how Greek yogurt is the next generation of yogurt. In fact, our dream is for Banza to be the Chobani of Detroit. Per serving, Banza has more protein than a protein bar and more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal.”

What is both of your backgrounds? Why venture out into starting your own company?

“I moved to Detroit through a program called Venture for America. VFA places recent college graduates in cities with negative job growth, with hopes that we will create jobs in those cities through entrepreneurship. I previously worked in a growth marketing role at a startup called Quikly in downtown Detroit.? My goal has always been to start a company, mostly because I truly believe that there is no better way to create value.”

“Scott worked in investment banking and private equity for several years before co-founding Banza with me. He also co-founded a successful water company called Vero Water. It’s a pleasure working with someone who has so much experience. He really helps drive the business forward,” said Brian.

What has been the feedback so far on the banza? How do you describe the taste and texture? 

“I’m biased, but let’s be real here. It’s chickpeas. Chickpeas are delicious. Have you ever eaten hummus? Falafel? The taste is just like regular pasta, but with a hint of chickpea flavor. It works in all of the same succulent, delicious dishes as regular pasta. One of my favorite dishes is Banza tossed in olive oil, basil, oregano and garlic. It’s fantastic.”

Today is the first time you can buy their product online. Check them out at EatBanza.com

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.