Allergy-Free Snack Bar Developed by Entrepreneur Class

Four Leon Hess Business School students have developed Hawk Country’s Hawklet Chip Bar, an allergy-friendly snack bar. The product is set to be released on Thursday, Dec. 11 in Anacon Hall from 6 – 8:30 pm at their launch party.

Hawklet Chip Bar is an all-natural, gluten-free granola bar that is free of the top eight allergens:  wheat, eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

“Our goal behind the product is to make a snack bar that is completely safe for a child who has a food allergy,” said Britanny Lamb, CEO and a junior business student.

Hawklet Chip Bars will be released to major grocery stores such as Shop Rite and Pathmark and will cost roughly $2.

Lamb said the Hawklet Chip Bar is a snack that allows children with food allergies to enjoy eating while with their friends who may not have food allergies. “We want the bar to be something that makes kids with allergies feel included, not excluded,” she said.

Lamb, along with Devin Hope, COO, Albert DiBenedetto, General Manager, and Andrew Natashkin, Sales Team Manager, created this product in their entrepreneur class. Led by John Buzza, a specialist professor of management and science and Director of the Monmouth University Center for Entrepreneurship, the students have integrated much time and effort into research, product development, and marketing throughout the semester.

Lamb devised the idea of an allergy-friendly snack bar. The junior business student’s inspiration came from her cousin who is an allergy sufferer. Due to product mislabeling, her cousin consumed a snack which he wasn’t supposed to, causing him to have a serious reaction.

“I really liked this product idea because I can personally relate,” said Hope. “I also have a cousin who is severely allergic to peanuts and dairy, so I was passionate about this idea turning into a product.”

“We are taking this product very seriously with producing and packaging because we want our customers to feel safe when eating our product,” continued Hope.

As part of the group’s research, Hawk Country took a road trip to Virginia to visit a food allergy bakery, California FAB, opened by Cupcake Wars Veteran, Dawk Eskins. “We went in order to learn more about cooking with allergies in mind, preventing cross-contamination and to learn exactly how to make our product,” said Lamb.

While in Virginia, Hawk Country participated in a walk to raise awareness about food allergies. The end result of the trip was the group solidifying their recipe and giving out over 500 samples of Hawklet Chip Bar at the walk that day, which received no negative feedback.

“We garnered enough sponsorships and donations to get the company off the ground and fund nutrition testing,” said Andrew Nastashkin, a member of the sales team.

Hawk Country truly thanks Buzza for his mentorship and teaching style. “Buzza’s style of teaching is much more memorable and impacting than reading off notes or PowerPoint slides,” said Hope.

When Buzza first started this course on-campus about ten years ago, he decided to restructure the curriculum. He wanted students to experience the business field in hands on way by creating small businesses. “On becoming an entrepreneur, it is more about reality than theory,” Buzza said.

“In this entrepreneurship class, I want students to get a real sense of creating a business and being able to feel and create it, as well as really feel the fire of being an entrepreneur,” said Buzza.

The class brainstorms about 25 business ideas at the start of the semester. It is a vote amongst the class on which product, service, or good the class wants to create. The ideas keep narrowing down until one idea is decided on.

“It is a student-generated class, in the sense that the students are the ones who decide on the business they want to create,” said Buzza. “The idea is not force fed and by having it be the students’ own ideas, it creates a buy in and students become passionate about it since it’s their own business.”

Buzza is recipient of the 2010 national honor for having created the “Most Innovative Entrepreneurship Course” by the U.S. Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs.

“Professor Buzza is very interactive with his students and his door is always open for his students,” Hope said.

“Students do not get the real sense of entrepreneurship by just taking notes and having the professor lecture,” Buzza added.

“Buzza hits a home run with teaching entrepreneurship, because he allows us to learn by experience and as Buzza says, ‘Through trials and tribulations you learn the best,’” said Hope.

“Professor Buzza is quite simply the best,” said Lamb. “He has taught me so much and offers so much insight to each class.”

“This product has the potential to be huge and we are diligently working towards making this a success,” said Hope.

PHOTO TAKEN by Kierra Lanni

PHOTO COURTESY of Kierra Lanni