Archive for Food

There’s an ‘I’ in Popcorn—or There is Now

Pipsnacks is a company founded five years ago on the premise of reimagining snack foods. Founded by brother and sister Jen and Jeff Martin, Pipsnacks’ main product is Pipcorn. “What is Pipcorn,” you may ask. Well, simply put, it is miniature popcorn. While the hulls of Pipcorn are thinner, and therefore easy to eat and digest (not to mention get out of your teeth), the product is also gluten free, non-GMO, vegan (except for a particular flavor which has ghee, a milk product), and whole grain.

Pipsnacks has gone from selling their product in brown paper bags to a successful online company, and have had a number of achievements, ranging from being on Oprah, starting a mini-factory, getting funding from Shark Tank, and getting on shelves in retailers like Target and Costco.

The Budlong

Phil Benner is an entrepreneur involved in more than one business endeavor. In the restaurant business, The Budlong is one of the startups he worked on. The Budlong is a series of hot chicken restaurants that has four locations in the busy city of Chicago. The idea for the Budlong came from Jared Leonard, who tried Nashville fried chicken at a barbecue conference. Realizing how big of a market a city like Chicago could offer for good, hot fried chicken like this, a team brought the idea to life. With the first store opening in 2016, they already have four restaurants in the city. With four levels of spiciness, naked, classic, hot, and x-hot, the delicious (trust me, it’s delicious) chicken appeals to a wide crowd. The good location and great food come together to make this business unique.

Alina Morse – Zollipops

For those of you who love candy but hate the dentist, this product is for you. Confronted with the same dilemma, Alina Morse was only seven years old when she used $7,500 from her grandparents to design a product and start a company with the help of her father. This product was a lollipop sweetened without the use of sugar, but instead: xylitol, maltitol syrup, beetroot juice and stevia.

Within just a few short years, Alina was selling her product on Amazon and in stores such as Whole Foods. She has pitched her idea on television, and, due to her healthy food initiative, Michelle Obama even invited her to visit The White House twice and making her candy the only one at the annual Easter Egg Roll.

Alina says that she loves her product, travelling all around the world to share it with others, and watching it “brighten their smiles.”

Deepti Sharma is the founder of She is 27 years old and double majored in political science and business. specializes in a service were people pre-order food from immigrant communities. The site was beta launched in 2011 and actively launched in 2013. Sharma got the idea when she was waiting in line for 20 minutes one day for food. The benefit to Sharma’s service is that people do not have to wait in line for food. It also allows food owners to engage with their customers, increase their business, and have a define amount of orders placed. Restaurants and vendors sent their open hours so that customers can only order from restaurants/vendors available at that very moment. When customers order, an email is sent to the restaurant/vendor and the restaurant/vendor must confirm the email. charges a 10-cent fee per transaction. 700 restaurants and 50 food carts are involved in the enterprise.  The service relies on customer feedback. The service is concentrated in New York City, but Sharma looks to integrate this service in New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. She also looks at developing an app for the service. Sharma had previous knowledge in the field with her food management and hands on experience in the food industry. employs six people for marketing/sales and four people technology people in India. also works with many interns and relies heavily on social media to advertise. Sharma is a great entrepreneur because she has combined technology and multicultural food together to best serve restaurant owners and consumers.



Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron—Grove Ecosystem

the grove ecosystem launches a kickstarter for its indoor garden a27a4805

Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron were roommates and seniors at MIT. Both were concerned about one of the most threatening problems that we as humans face on this earth today; global food unsustainability. As this was frequently on his mind, Jamie decided to build a DIY aquaponics prototype in the room he shared with Gabe, capturing the attention of many visitors of their room. This prototype would eventually become the idea for a brand called Grove Labs. Grove Labs is a company that produces nearly self-sustaining indoor aquaponics gardens in your home. One such product is the Grove Ecosystem, capable of growing substantial yields of vegetables and herbs, frequently up to a salad per day. The entire fertilization, filtration, hydration, and feeding system is contained within the area of a single bookshelf, utilizing an aquarium of fish and LED lights to allow the plants to grow. Since its inception, Grove Ecosystem has raised nearly half a million on Kickstarter.

Gabe and Jamie’s story is interesting, because it shows how something unique can be created out of passion for a particular subject. In this case, they felt strongly about food sustainability, and brainstormed a product that can answer many of the problems in this subject by creating a self-sustaining home ecosystem. In addition, I appreciate their innovation with this product, as they have taken two concepts (the home and the garden) which are inherently separate and distinct, and merged them into something greater that they are passionate about.



Entrepreneurship In Africa

With an  initial investment of $100,000 and a drive to give Nigerians greater access to healthy food, Affiong Williams founded the company ReelFruit which has now grown to a size of seventeen employees and is providing services to 80 stores in Nigeria. ReelFruit suppplies dried fruit which is dried and packages by the company in the capital and distributed throughout the country. Williams says that she saw a lot of potential in the field (using her own money and that of her family to initially back the venture). She was also altruistic in her goal of providing much needed jobs in the country, and has clearly been successful thus far.

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Williams spoke to the difficulty of introducing a new product to the agriculture market. She certainly had some apprehension as ” the [agriculture” sector primarily is obviously more complicated than people anticipate. I think there are so many issues with the, sort of structural issue with the sector so for any sort of I think success, it will take a lot of planning and understanding and also a lot of technical understanding.

William’s most inspiring entrepreneurial trait is her is her determination. This is especially helpful when combined with her keen ability to see problems or holes in the market and find a solution. She remarks that she saw a hole in the market and was determined to exploit it, and she has. In reading about her experience in entering the agriculture sector, the most significant thing I learned was the ability of every sector of the market whether agriculture or computer science is very intricate, complicated, and filled with technology- all of which must be understood to be successful in that sphere. – Feeding the Hungry Made Easy

Kutoa’s birth was pretty simple, actually – Joey Grassia saw a problem, and he used the resources he had to create a solution. I’ll explain.

In 2007, Grassia was struck by the severe malnutrition and sickness he witnessed when he traveled to South Asia. A few years after that, he had a health scare of his own, due to his diet filled with additives and preservatives. In marrying these two problems he encountered, he came up with a solution for both. Kutoa (Swahili “to give”) is a website that sells gluten free, sans GMO health bars with no added sugar or preservatives. The best part? For each bar sold, one is given to a hungry child. Having just started Kutoa in 2010, Grassia has already driven it to deliver 1 million meals to children in need.

One thing that Grassia has been very intentional in doing is inviting the consumer not just to buy a health bar, but to be a part of this global change. connects with its consumers through its blog, which can be found on The blog highlights various individuals, organizations, and schools in the community that are doing their part in fighting hunger both locally and around the world. Scrolling through the reviews for their health bars (among which you can find Chocolate Espresso Bean, Blueberry Almond, and Cherry Cashew), it is obvious that Kutoa’s consumers are ecstatic about finding a health bar that is truly healthy, and being able to make a tangible difference in an easy way.

Perhaps one of the most driving factors in Kutoa’s success has been Grassia’s mindset towards entrepreneurship. He believes that someone doesn’t need to have loads of experience in the business world to make an impact. He or shes just needs have to have an experience. Grassia’s happened to include a life-changing trip and a new diet. In the “Our Story” page of, Grassia challenges his audience to take a look at the experiences they’ve had, and figure out how we can turn those into ideas that will improve our lives and others’. “Please,” he writes, “always remember that each of us have the power to make a difference.”

Zollipops: The Lollipops That Clean Your Teeth

At just 7 years old, Alina Morse saw a need to be filled while in line at the bank. The bank teller offered her a lollipop, but Alina refused because her parents always told her that sugar was bad for her teeth. Exasperated, she later asked her father, “Why can’t we make a lollipop that’s actually good for your teeth?”

From that moment on, the two started working on what later became known as Zollipops. Alina’s father helped with $750 of the startup cost and Alina saved up her money until she had enough to start the company. The whole family participates in running the Zollipops company, and Alina calls herself the “idea person.” She uses her imagination to come up with new products and flavors.

Not only are Zollipops sugar free and made with natural ingredients, but they are also beneficial for your teeth. The company has further expanded to offer Zolli Drops (comparable to hard candy) and Zaffi Taffy. All of these products are held to the same standard of good ingredients that are safe for dental health. They are available in a variety of flavors from mint to assorted fruit flavors.

At such a young age, Alina was able to see a gap that may only be seen from a child’s perspective. I admire the responsibility she demonstrated in caring about dental health, and her desire to provide a way for children to enjoy lollipops without all of the damaging ingredients. Her perspective challenges me to look for gaps I may not see in my daily life since I am no longer a child.

Alina exhibits a drive and passion for her company, and I believe that is one of the reasons why she is successful. She cares about her product because it was a personal “pain” she felt and so she did something about it. I strive to have the perceptiveness in recognizing and solving the pains and inconveniences I encounter in my everyday life.

Convenient Store At Your Door

Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev launched goPuff when they were only sophomores at Drexel University in 2013. GoPuff is your convenient store on wheels, bringing over 3,000 items ranging from snacks and drinks to necessities and electronics – straight to your front door in 30 minutes or less. The idea came to them as car-less freshmen roommates constantly asking for rides to get basic necessities or cigarettes. There were apps for full-blown grocery shopping or gourmet food, but what about just a plain old convenient store run? – and goPuff was born.

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Before they had even fully launched, they were already getting orders from fellow college students and residents of Philadelphia. At first, the roommates worked 17-18 hour shifts with their (new) cars to deliver the snacks and goodies, but with time came employees and they now have dozens of drivers in twelve different cities across the US.Image result for gopuff

Gola and Ilishayev don’t see other food delivery services as their competitors – they see the brick and mortar convenient stores as their primary competition. Competition is a loose term however – in 2014, they already had 25,000 customers in Philadelphia alone just a year after launch.

While it’s unfortunate that their services don’t extend to Grove City, they are constantly expanding and setting up camp in more major cities across America. So the next time you’re in a big city with a hankering for Ben & Jerry’s, goPuff’s got your back.

Bikes and Bars

In 1990 a strong, young man set out on a journey. His appetite for adventure had him continually searching for the next great feat to accomplish. On this particular day, the goal was a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride with his buddy. Halfway through the ride he pulled out yet another unappetizing, sticky, hard-to-stomach energy bar, his fifth of the day. He took one look at the grungy protein and stashed it back into his pocket. Cruising down a mountain at 30 mph he yelled over to his friend, “I can make a bar better than this!” He was right.

Gary Erickson went on to create one of the most esteemed energy bars on the market, CLIF Bar. Erickson spent two months in the kitchen with his mom, honing the recipe for his new bars. He used wholesome, energy-sustaining ingredients. In 1992 CLIF Bar was officially launched, named after Gary’s father, Clifford, the man who taught him to love adventure and to follow his dreams.

BusinessCardsOver the next eight years the company grew tremendously. CLIF Bar became one of the top bars on the market. Suddenly, however, most of their competitors began to be bought up by huge, multinational food companies. This put a lot of pressure on Erickson to sell CLIF Bar. He was offered $120 million for the company, and was faced with a tough decision.

Ultimately, he made the bold move to continue with CLIF Bar. Now, fifteen years later, this proves to be a wise decision as CLIF Bar has continued to grow and is still one of the most popular bars around. Erickson has established a unique business model that pushes the boundaries of conventional wisdom.cliffbar-2 He believes in the need for his employees to live holistic lives. CLIF Bar offers many benefits for their employees, including: an onsite fitness center, personal trainers, flexible workweek, paid volunteer service, onsite childcare and concierge services such as haircuts and organic produce delivery.

Adventure, risk taking, and dedication have proven to be guiding forces for Erickson. His story shows the potential for a small idea to take root and have tremendous impact on an entire market.