Friday, October 4, 2019

From Linebacker to Food Entrepreneur: Blake’s Seed Based

Regular readers of entreVIEW may be familiar with my enthusiasm for Wisconsin sports. As an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it is particularly exciting to see other alumni experiencing professional success — especially when it links sports, entrepreneurship, and my (required) dietary restrictions.

I, along with an estimated 3 million other U.S. adults, am allergic to tree nuts. This can make for awkward social situations (eating alone at weddings because it takes so long to get a nut-free meal) and challenging grocery store selections (if it says it was “processed at a facility that also processes tree nuts,” it’s probably fine, but on the off-chance it’s not, I’m stuck with an entire box of granola bars). So, when I heard the story of a former Wisconsin Badgers football player who had developed a line of allergy-free seed based snack and protein bars, I was intrigued.

Blake Sorensen, a Minnesota native and budding food entrepreneur, was recently featured in a article. Between 2007 and 2010, Sorensen was a linebacker for the Wisconsin Badgers. Like me, he has a tree nut allergy. While getting his MBA at Indiana University, Sorensen took a social entrepreneurship class from which a business idea was born: Blake’s Seed Based, a line of snack bars featuring a combination of seeds and fruit free from the major allergens of nuts, dairy, and gluten.

Sorensen made the first bars in his own kitchen using a food processor. He then raised $30,000 through Kickstarter and was later selected to be one of five companies nationwide to participate in the Kraft Heinz Springboard incubator, through which he received an additional $100,000.  Currently, Blake’s Seed Based is a three-person operation based in Chicago, and its products are distributed in nearly 490 retail outlets, including some Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Hy-Vee, and REI locations, the athletic programs of nearly all Big Ten universities, and the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions programs.

While I have yet to undertake a taste test, the bars come in delectable-sounding flavors of raspberry, pineapple, chocolate mint, and mango lemon. The company is hoping to expand its product offerings within the next year to include cookies, trail mix, and crackers and to distribute nationwide.

Given that the idea originated from a social entrepreneurship class, it is also fitting that the company has made a commitment to social responsibility. Through its “Bar for a Box” program, the company donates one bar to a school in need for each box of 12 bars sold and has a goal of donating 1 million bars.

No comments :

Post a Comment