Class Notes

A taste for business: launching a planet-friendly milk brand amidst the pandemic

Nicola Garg (Pharmacology, 2008)

Co-founder and CEO of plant-based milk brand The Good Pea Co., alumna Nicola (Nikki) Garg (Pharmacology, 2008) has had a full-circle moment, with her product now supplied at King’s Food outlets. Sharing the King’s ethos to make the world a better place, Nikki shares how her time at King’s inspired her to continue asking ‘why?’, what memories she holds from her time at the university and how she launched the business during a global lockdown.

‘My time at King’s College London has left me with beautiful personal memories and equipped me to face my onward journey. 

‘King’s instilled in me the inherent need to make a difference, to make my mark. It taught me what great minds can accomplish together and to never stop asking “why?”. 

‘After graduating with a pharmacology degree in 2008, I applied to a bank for a summer job and fell into banking and finance as a career. I learnt so much during this time – from sales to leadership to programme management – and met so many talented people. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being a very small cog in a very big wheel.

‘After taking some time to reflect on my career in 2020 (coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic), it was my younger self from my King’s days that made me starting asking “why?” again.

‘Why am I choosing to stay “stuck” in my career? Why is the pandemic happening? Why are “healthy” food and drinks not actually as healthy and sustainable as they should be? Why am I not doing anything about it?

‘It was questioning “why?” that led to the inception of The Good Pea Co, the pea milk brand born out of lockdown. It was these “why?” questions that formed our company values of always being: nutritious, planet-friendly and tasty.

‘It is important to us to be as inclusive as possible. Therefore, we found a way of making our product a nutrient-packed alternative for people who don’t consume dairy (it contains 34g plant protein per litre, has 50 per cent more calcium than cow’s milk, and is fortified with vitamins D, B12 and iodine). 

‘We chose the yellow split pea as our hero ingredient for its amazing sustainability story and worked with an award-winning food technologist to make pea milk deliciously creamy. 

‘My co-founder, Suhani, and I were not from the food and beverage industry, so launching our business during the pandemic came with its ups and downs and a very steep learning curve. 

‘On the hard days, it has been my parents’ work ethic ingrained in me, together with the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude I gained from King’s, that has kept us going. We have now successfully launched our brand in retail and the food service industry and have won two awards for our plant milk range.

‘It has been the cherry on top to come back full circle to King’s as a supplier and work with the Head of Catering and Executive Chef to launch The Good Pea Co. across the university.

‘I will always continue to contribute to King’s in any way that I can, and my door will remain open to any students who would like to know more about my journey. King’s was where I met the love of life (now husband) and made life-long friends, who are now excelling in their own lives and careers.

‘To me, King’s will always feel like home.’