Archive for Food

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.

Wicked Good Cupcakes (with a wicked twist)

There is no question that I always have room for dessert. Cupcakes are known for being delicious individual desserts that are great for almost any occasion when you don’t want to get messy cutting up a cake. The problem with cupcakes is that they tend to fall or role around if you are transporting them somewhere…How could you transport and ship cupcakes without disappointing the customer?! Solution? Put the cupcake in a cup (or a jar)!!! This is exactly what a mother and daughter came up with for their growing bakery. Tracey and her daughter Dani now have a 20 million dollar business selling cupcakes in jars! Who would have thought?!

This duo has been seen on the show SharkTank and they even won over Mr. Wonderful himself.

(03/04/2015 Marshfield, MA) Wicked Good Cupcakes Tracey Noonan, right, and Danielle Vilagie (on left) got a major national boost in 2013 for their popular locally based mail order cupcake business with an investment from Kevin O'Leary, center, of Shark Tank. Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt West

Focusing specifically on the millennial in this duo, Dani says not many 25 year olds have the privilege of owning a multi-million dollar company. I would go further to say that most people don’t see that much revenue in a lifetime.

Dani has proven that providing simple solutions can be the most elegant and effective business strategy. It’s new. It’s different. It’s tasty. And most importantly it sells. Dani also has an edgy style which is probably what gives a personal touch to the company’s name. Wicked Good Cupcakes got its foothold by making wicked good cupcakes…but the niche of being able to put it in a classy jar and ship it anywhere just opened up a whole new level of customers they couldn’t reach before.

Dani and her mom are a team. Dani, as a millennial entrepreneur, was able to offer a newness to the family recipes that I’m sure her mom aided in concocting. Their website is welcoming and enticing…which makes me even more curious to see how tasty these cupcakes are. I might just have to give into my sweet-tooth and order some. (It does look a little pricey though…so maybe I’ll save the order for a special occasion.)

Shop for some Wicked Good Cupcakes

ReelFruit by Affiong Williams

If you’re looking for some great stories of innovation and successful start-ups, I would suggest looking for them in Africa. Recently, entrepreneurs in African nations have been realizing their potential at an astounding rate. A fantastic example of this is Affiong Williams and her company ReelFruit.

Williams, who was one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 in 2015, founded her fruit processing company in Nigeria in 2012. The company sells dried fruit and nut snacks, but the impact is much larger. Williams has said that she founded the company because she saw a gap in the market and that “there is untapped opportunity in processing and value addition of raw materials.” She has also said, “I also believe it’s a very budding sector, there is a lot of opportunity as well as the job creation which I think is quite important to me as an entrepreneur to be able to play in an industry that would create a lot of jobs.”

Clearly, Williams is passionate about developing the agribusiness sector of the Nigerian economy as well as the the rural farmers themselves. This info-graphic can be found on their website:reelfruit-infographic

The company’s current product line includes dried mango, pineapple, cashew, banana and coconut snacks. As an ambitious individual, Williams is working on raising capital to open a new, larger factory to produce and package more product as well as expand the product line.

Williams has said, “I hope to be on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in five years’ time.” This company is going places. Look for ReelFruit to expand and to have an incredible impact on the agribusiness economy of Nigeria and beyond.

Meghan Markle, Global Citizen

Many people might have heard of Meghan Markle from her role as Rachel Zane in Suits, or for more recently being known as Prince Harry’s new girlfriend. That description alone might lead you to form assumptions about her character – Hollywood glam, famous celebrity, future royalty, etc., etc. However, Meghan is also a passionate political activist and entrepreneur. She is the founder of fashion/self-empowerment site The Tig. Her site features her own clothing line, articles on travel, food, fashion, and fitness as well as interviews with powerful women and blogs on issues like civil rights and empowerment. “I knew that girls were checking the site to see fashion tips or how to get a stellar blow dry,” Meghan writes about The Tig, “but in reframing the beauty content to include think pieces about self-empowerment, or feature dynamic women such as Fatima Bhutto, I was hoping to integrate social consciousness and subjects of higher value than, let’s say…selfies. A subtle means to pepper in what really matters.”

Meghan Markle, courtesy of The Tig

Meghan Markle, courtesy of The Tig

In addition to running a successful brand website, Meghan is also a global ambassador for World Vision as well as an advocate for UN Women. She writes frequently about the struggle of balancing her two worlds – the stark contrast between her glamourous celebrity lifestyle of excess and her humanitarian work with those who have nothing. She writes, “With fame comes opportunity, but in my opinion, it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings, and if I’m lucky enough – then to inspire.” Meghan Markle is truly an inspiration – for entrepreneurs, women, anybody. She has shown how you can successfully take a luxurious life and use it to bless others through an entrepreneurial spirit.

Gardens for Health International

First of all, I cannot even express how happy this organization makes me. Like, I can’t even.

Now that we’ve established my excitement, I can tell you about the actual organization. Julie Carney co-founded Gardens for Health in 2007 with her friend Emma Clippinger. The original idea was to work with people with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda to help them grow their own food for consumption and sale. However, after two years of living and working toward this goal in Rwanda, Julie realized that they were working on the wrong problem. Malnutrition was the bigger issue in Rwanda. So Gardens for Health developed accordingly. This is a fantastic example of reframing the problem and pivoting in your idea to address the problem more effectively and be more successful in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Now Gardens for Health fights malnutrition in Rwanda by “partnering with local health centers to integrate agricultural support and comprehensive health education into the clinical treatment of malnutrition.” They work to include agriculture training for local families in the usual assistance provided by public health centers.

“Our agriculture team works to blend international innovations in sustainable agriculture with time-tested Rwandan farming practices in order to help every family with whom we work to make the most of their existing resources.

Through our work, we are changing the way that malnutrition is treated by moving away from short-term handouts and towards equipping families with the knowledge and resources to grow their own nutritious food and improve their health. We envision a future in which the key to lasting food and nutrient security for vulnerable families lies in their own backyards.”

Again, I LOVE the mission of this organization!!! This is innovation the world needs! Find out more about Gardens for Health at their website.

 

Suja Juice: A Lifestyle

suja-juice-1Annie Lawless had many health issues as a child and young adult and a result of that discovered a new found passion for health and nutrition in her teenage years. This passion and expertise in nutrition led her to found, with several co-founders with similar passions, Suja Juice.

Suja Juice makes organic cold-pressured juices and smoothies. In 2015, they were named #2 on Forbes “Most Promising Companies: The Top 20 of 2015.” They have remained popular and have received much attention and acclaim for their products. In January, Suja was valued at more than $300 million and they are expected to reach $70 million in sales this year.

 

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Annie Lawless created a business that she, and her co-founders, were passionate about and grew that business because she also found a niche that consumers were passionate about.  The nutrition and health food market is one that is extremely specialized and each consumer has their very own favorite good that he or she seeks out which can be deflating or inflating for companies. Suja Juice is a company that offers a product that many consumers will go out of their way to find, which shows success in what the company is making and doing. Annie Lawless is a millennial entrepreneur who fully embodies the spirit of what being a millennial entrepreneur means and practices it every day. Well done, Annie!

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You can Suja Juice’s website here: https://www.sujajuice.com/

You can also find Annie Lawless’ personal blog here: http://blawnde.com/

 

Pit It! Pinterest.

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There is an online platform that many individuals, particularly millennials, enjoy. Well, often it’s a procrastination mechanism, at least it is for me. Pinterest allows you to save links to various sites including (but not limited to) retail sites and blogs. “Pins”, as they are called, are categorized and browse-able. With one simple click on the image, your computer, tablet or smartphone immediately links to the site from which the picture was pinned. This allows a user to collect and share others ideas, styles, thoughts, quotes, travels and just about anything you could think to take a snap shot of. I have certainly found myself spending a lot of time on this virtual creativity board.

Ben Silberman, born in 1982, co-founded the virtual pin-board known as Pinterest. Silberman is an internet entrepreneur and acts as the CEO of Pinterest. Silberman is quite the accomplished man. He participated in a prestigious high school research program at MIT, and he later graduated from Yale with his undergraduate degree. Silberman worked at Google in the online advertising group, until he started creating his own apps. Silberman said he thought of Pinterest because he has always liked to collect things. Now, with Pinterest, we can all collect ideas!

Revolutionizing Dinner Time – Blue Apron

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It has been another long day in the office. It is the end of the week, your fridge is empty and you haven’t eaten since that blueberry muffin and cup of coffee at noon. You weigh the options. Order in again? Maybe Chinese or pizza, maybe you muster up some energy to go to the grocery store to make an actual meal or maybe you just dare to consume that microwave meal that has been sitting in your freezer for eternity in case of an emergency. All these options are less than enticing. After all you love to cook, but grocery shopping takes way too much time out of your week.

Amidst a sea of food services Blue Apron has differentiated in an incredibly unique way,  developing a RECIPE 😉 for success for Americans who love to cook by offering them a meal kit – a big box of ingredients in exactly the right amounts and a recipe card with easy instructions on how to make the meal. All at a price of roughly $10. A gourmet meal at your fingertips for a very reasonable price.

Our mission is to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone

And that is exactly what they do. They pick the freshest, most unique ingredients on the market within a sustainable food system. Blue Apron sets the standards high for ingredients sourcing from direct relationships with farmers. The company desires to build a community of home chefs, through providing recipes that encourage home chefs to try new ingredients and cooking techniques every week, customizing the meals to the skill level of the cook.

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You can have all of these ingredients for one of these meals delivered directly to your door for just you or for your family.

Like many start-ups Blue Apron started in a with a problem that translated into an idea. In the summer of 2012, Matt Salzberg, Ilia Papas, and Matt Wadiak tested the first Blue Apron recipes in their tiny New York apartments. “The goal was to make the experience of cooking with quality produce and specialty ingredients accessible to everyone, no matter where they live or how busy they are.” The first test was to family and friends, when the three entrepreneurs hand-picked the first boxes themselves and delivered them to family and friends. It was hugely successful. Now the company sends over 8 million meals per month to home chefs nationwide, with thousands of employees working in the offices around the country.

Blue Apron is not only providing a high quality service but is bringing families together through these delivered meals. The recipes are easy for kids and parents to get involved in!

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