Anyone ever invented anything interesting in the kitchen? new recipe? a biddat al-husana?
By JESSICA BRUDER
Mallory Kievman, inventor of the Hiccupop.
To silence her stubborn hiccups during the summer of 2010, Mallory Kievman tried swallowing sal[Edited Out]er, making herself gag, eating a spoonful of sugar, sipping pickle juice and drinking a glass of water upside-down. Nearly two years and 100 attempted folk remedies later, the 13-year-old is preparing to lead a team of M.B.A. students from the University of Connecticut in building a company that can bring her invention — Hiccupops, or hiccup-stopping lollipops — to market this summer.
“It’s very rare, when you’re evaluating businesses, that you can envision a company or product being around 100 years from now,” said Danny Briere, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Startup Connecticut, which nurtures new companies, including Hiccupops, and is a regional affiliate of the Startup America Partnership. “Hiccupops is one of those things. It solves a very simple, basic need.”
Mallory met Mr. Briere last spring at the Connecticut Invention Convention, an annual competition for kids. “I went there, and I knew it would either be a hit or a miss project,” she said. “People would either like it, or they would think I was crazy.”
She had developed the product in her family’s Manchester, Conn., kitchen, amalgamating her three favorite cures — lollipops, apple cider vinegar and sugar — into a single confection. “It triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc,” said Mallory with a matter-of-fact tone. “It basically over-stimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup.”
The judges didn’t think she was crazy. Instead, they awarded Hiccupops prizes for innovation and patentability. As part of her winnings, intellectual property lawyers filed for a patent, now pending, on Mallory’s behalf.
Soon, she will even have her own team of consultants. The University of Connecticut’sInnovation Accelerator plans to dispatch a group of graduate business students this summer to help push Hiccupops out into the world. The students will work from late May through August and get paid for their labor by theConnecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a university hub that hosts the Innovation Accelerator program. The center’s executive director, Christopher Levesque, will be their mentor.
“It’s a nifty invention and it has some terrific potential benefits for society,” said Mr. Levesque. “It straddles that line between an attractive, go-to product that people might like to savor and a helpful nutraceutical aid. It’s innovative, born of some real ingenuity.”
So far, Mallory has presented her product at a state economic summit and at the Xcellr8 Innovation Cell, a networking group. In January, she joined a group of Startup America entrepreneurs ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
“It’s funny to see her give a business overview presentation, because she shows the organizational chart and there’s her as the C.E.O. and head of R&D,” said her father, Adam Kievman, laughing. “Then you get a picture of me, and it says ‘adult supervision.’ It’s been great to see it come together because this was something that she developed on her own. I’m trying to do my best to support it but to also not, you know, drive it.”
This is how Mallory explains her father’s role: “He’s helping me with a lot of the business stuff. And he’s also helping me handle stuff like using the stove.”
Mallory hopes Hiccupops will become a staple of school nurses’ offices and drugstores. She also wants to explore a medical niche, since hiccups are a common and uncomfortable side effect of chemotherapy. “It always has been really appealing to me to be able to sort of have a product out there that can help people,” she said. “I want to become a doctor and go into medicine.”
So far, her biggest challenge has been working through more than 40 batches to find a formula that hardens well and is stable enough for shelf storage. That part is over now, she said, so she’s working on “tweaking the taste” and finding the right contract manufacturer.
For at least one member of Mallory’s team, the move to a professional facility can’t happen soon enough. “It’s been a lot of mess in the kitchen lab,” her father said. “So, yeah, Mallory’s mom isn’t really thrilled with all the development work going on.”
Edited by sweet89, 06 May 2012 - 11:11 AM.