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Adnan Aziz, Founder

Adnan Aziz

To most, watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is like taking a trip into CandyLand. By the end of the movie, the only thing you may be asking yourself is how soon you can get your hands on anything sweet and sugary. Twenty-four year old Adnan Aziz asked himself a different question after watching the movie in his college dorm – and searching for the answer has completely changed his life. As the founder of FirstFlavor, Adnan’s company has actually developed edible film samples for your taste buds’ pleasure. First Flavor literally brings “taste” to marketing by using edible film technology to develop taste impressions of a product. Sounds complicated? Not really-besides the R&D; research that went into it. To break it down, the flavor of a product is packaged into a single-dose sachette. When consumers open the sachette and put the film in their mouths, they instantly get a burst of flavor. It’s simple, innovative, and above all else- tasty! Find out how Adnan transformed one of those “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could…” questions into a reality by checking out this week’s Young and Professional spotlight of The DesiConnect.


First Flavor


January 2005



Name and Title

Adnan Aziz, Founder




Houston, TX

Current residence

Philadelphia, PA


University of Pennsylvania, BSE BioEngineering, 2004;
University of Pennsylvania, BS Political Science, 2004.

Work Experience

First Flavor, Founder & EVP Product Development January 2005-Present;
Artisense, Founder (became First Flavor).



About the company

First Flavor is bringing taste to marketing, literally. We have built upon edible film technology(think breath strips), to deliver taste impressions of a product. We can replicate the flavor profile of a product into an edible film, which is packaged in a tamper-evident, single-dose sachette.

When a consumer opens the sachette and puts the film in their mouth, they get a burst of the flavor of the product! We like to call it taste messaging. Just as fragrance inserts allowed fragrances to leverage the sese of smell in their advertising, we’re innovating a parallel vision for taste.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Dealing with vendors, assisting with R&D; and creating sales opportunities.

Most notable milestones

Funded by notable serial entrepreneurs January 2005.

First prototype successfully developed in summer 2006 (took 20-some odd iterations!)

What’s the niche?

It’s a pretty unique concept in itself so we don’t have to try very hard in that aspect. The initial base concept was generated in a very, ‘eureka’ sort of way and I think that has shone through. When people see our product, or better yet taste it, I think they can sense the creativity involved. The bigger challenge for us is actually explaining that this is real!

What’s the biggest challenge?

Dealing with the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t move at the pace you’d like it to. Sales cycles in our business are extremely long and deciscions are often very drawn out.

What’s in store for the future?

Our first sale! We also have some product extensions we’re working on that will add some extra ‘magic’ to the whole experience.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

Anybody in Consumer Products or Advertising/Marketing.

How did you come up with the idea?

No joke, I was actually watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the original version, in my dorm room when i was a sophmore. There’s a scene in which they walk by some edible wall paper and the images taste like what they look like. A picture of an orange tastes like an orange, etc. I thought, well if there are edible dyes and flavorings, then this should be possible. The seed of the idea was in this thought of separating taste from actual food and being able to replicate it. From there it was about finding the “killer application.” Along the way, I had the opportunity to talk to alot of smart, creative people and get their input. The one concept that really seemed to stick was advertising.

What did you need to get your company launched?

I didn’t have the technical expertise to do the initial R&D; and build a prototype, so we needed to get expertise and for that we needed money. In order to get that money, however, it took alot of reading and speaking with experts to build a thought out plan. I tried to get as much risk out of the plan as possible.

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Best way to keep a competitive edge

1. Know how to use the resources at your disposal. Google comes to mind. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to start this company if I did not have the internet to find the right contacts easily and get the information I needed.
2. Keep challenging company. Besides a self-esteem boost, it doesn’t help to be the smartest person in the room. Every opinion is valuable, because it provides a perspective on your company or idea that you, being you, probably could not concieve of.
3. Don’t be jaded. Let the world affect you. It’s hard to be inspired or innovate, when you’re eyes or heart are shut.
4. Whatever you take in, try to draw some sort of conclusion or lesson. I read this quote somewhere I really liked and forgot the source:

“The trick is to use knowledge as a spur, rather than as a comfort pillow for a settled way of thinking.”

[For the curious, after research, we found that this quote is from the book “The Change Makers: From Carnegie to Gates, How the Great Entrepreneurs Transformed Ideas into Industries” by Maury Klein]

Guiding principle in life

Three small words with big meaning: “Courage. Patience. Faith.”

Yardstick of success

My wildest dreams.

Goal yet to be achieved

To see my product in the market.

Best practical advice

Be thankful for what you have.

Unless you think about what you actually have to be thankful for, you don’t realize what you have at your disposal. Taking an inventory of your life is the first step in making your life better.

Like knowledge, thankfullness isn’t a static thing, rather it’s an opportunity to move forward.

Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture

If you follow the pack, by definition, you’ll always be behind.

Mentor(s) and why?

My Family- Some of the smartest, most accomplished people I’ve ever met and yet they still are humble/grounded enough to mold their lives around the things that really count.

What motivated you to get started?

I liked the idea of creating value out of nothing.

Like best about what you do?

The fact that I can take my thoughts and dreams and present them to the world. I get to think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was…” and make that a reality. Clearly, it gets more complicated than that, but at the heart of it, its there.

Like least about what you do?

The risk.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Basketball player (don’t laugh).

What was your first job?

Intern at a seed stage VC shop…and then this.

Biggest pastime outside of work

Seeing friends and family.

Person most interested in meeting and why?

Anyone with something interesting to say.

Leader in business most interested in meeting and why?

Steve Jobs. He brings in so many different experiences into his products. It seems so much more than just selling a device. There is alot of passion there and you can totally sense it in the outcome.

Three interesting facts about yourself

1. Never been in the hospital (thank god)
2. Very random
3. Secretly, but not so much any more, I want to write a novel.

Three characteristics that describe you

1. Open-minded
2. Thoughtful
3. Stubborn

Three greatest passions

1. Family
2. Food!
3. Travelling

Favorite book

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Favorite cause

Crushing poverty. There are too many people in the world today who have no hope in their lives. Living without hope is a very dangerous thing, for everyone. As the Count of Monte Cristo said, “All human wisdom is summed up in these two words– `Wait and hope.'”

Is there anything else you!d like to add?

Feel free to reach out. I would love to hear from you!

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Interview by Sumaya Kazi
Introduction by Rupa Dev

Also this week

John KimHector EstradaAmir Nadimi

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