What do you do after completing a one-woman goodwill running tour across America for nine months? Move to Austin sight unseen, of course, and start delivering homemade soup and energy balls on a bike with a dance and a song thrown in. When you’re Katie Visco, it kind of makes sense.
Visco started hosting free soup parties back in Boston as a way to build a community (which she became a fan of after serving in AmeriCorps). Her eventual countrywide run in 2009 came about from a related desire to inspire people to follow their passions. After a months-long speaking tour to drive home the point, she took a train to New Orleans and biked the rest of the way to Austin—planning to stay a year. “That was 2011 and now…it’s now,” she says.
Visco threw more soup parties in Austin soon after she arrived, but she didn’t think to sell her creations until she needed extra money for a service trip to Costa Rica. “My friend asked, ‘What’s something you could monetize quickly and make $500 for a ticket?’ And I said ‘Soup!’”
She started delivering mystery “SOUPrise” creations on “Uncle Barry” (her bike) with a song, dance and/or poem thrown in for good measure. She called it “Hot Love Soup,” and even though the business was, and is still, bike-based, it’s grown to offer a range of organic soups made from mostly local ingredients, including a bison butternut squash cacao chili that The Food Network featured on the “Food Fortunes” show, along with the popular bone broths available at People’s Pharmacy.
Visco funded her next big “adventure-preneur” trip—a two-month bike ride through Southeast Asia—with Good Juju Energy Balls, an online business she started around 2014. She designed the round, oat-based balls to hold as many high-energy nutrients as possible in a portable, large-cherry-sized package for snacking on the go—hence flavors such as peanut-choco with cinnamon and chia and vanilla-almond with rooibos tea. Almost everything is organic and she can swap out an ingredient here or there to make the balls vegan and paleo, too.
These stimulating balls may very well give eaters a small taste of what it’s like to be revved up like Visco. Then again, nothing could likely ever match the wellspring from whence she draws her own personal juju. After the Asia trip, she plans to become the first woman to run across Australia in 2019. “It’s really a kind of crazy undertaking, to be honest, and yet it’s just another adventure,” says Visco. “It’s important to challenge yourself and not get stale.”