If necessity is the mother of invention, as the English proverb attests, then it makes sense that a mother imbued with passion, a biology background and an M.B.A. would invent a new line of products to help keep children healthier.
Jane Kramer ’14 M.B.A. launched LouLou Ingredients in 2012, a blog dedicated to educating people about the ingredients found in food and other products commonly found in the home, and how those ingredients could affect one’s health. Her comments and recommendations often came as a result of her own frustrations in attempting to locate healthy and tasty snacks for her own family, including a young son allergic to corn syrup and some other preservatives.
Posting recipes and tips, as well as sharing her homemade snacks with other families, she soon developed a loyal following. At the same time, Kramer was enrolled in the Evening UST MBA program with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. A requirement of her class with Alec Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of entrepreneurship, was entering a business plan into the Fowler Business Concept Challenge.
It was a perfect recipe. “I had been working on a business concept, thinking that perhaps there was a way to turn LouLou Ingredients into a real venture. Then I took Alec’s class and that really kickstarted everything.” Kramer won the graduate-level division at the 2013 competition, earning the top prize of $10,000 and some valuable supporters from among the panel of judges. One judge offered to act as her mentor while another had connections to an allergy-free kitchen in which to test her recipes and develop the final products.
The result is Escape 8, a reference to the top eight ingredients that make up 90 percent of children’s allergies. After winning the Fowler prize, Kramer spent months refining her business, locating an allergy-free packing facility and fine-tuning her recipes and meal plans. She hopes to develop Escape 8’s reputation as a trusted source of information (and snacks) and, eventually, open her own café-style shop. In the meantime, Kramer sells her goods through fairs and special events, and includes recipes and meal plans on her blog: loulouingredients.com.
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