A young entrepreneur has hatched a business idea that is garnering a great deal of attention.
Eggcitables, a chickpea-based vegan egg replacement, is the brainchild of Hannah Chisholm, a native of Heatherton, Antigonish County.
“There was a recipe that I had been using myself,” she said, in reflecting on the beginnings of what has now becoming an award-winning idea. A visit to a Halifax restaurant, one with virtually each menu item containing them, had Chisholm really thinking that there must be a market for her “fake eggs” idea.
From there, she got cracking, conducting research that included findings related to the use of chickpea flour.
“I started playing around with ingredients,” Chisholm, who is also allergic to milk, nuts and shellfish, said.
Last summer, when the now fourth-year student in St. F.X.’s Schwartz School of Business received one of four Wallace Internships, which provides an opportunity to take an idea and work to turn it into a business, she ramped up her effort.
“It really got me started and gave me a chance to truly develop my business idea,” Chisholm said.
As part of that internship experience, she made a connection with Truro-based Perennia Innovation Centre, a group of food scientists. “We continue to work on product development,” Chisholm said, noting taste, smell and texture are areas of focus during this process.
She also continues work on finding partnerships and securing suppliers, along with branding and logo development.
“I hope to have it ready shortly after graduation (in May),” the entrepreneurship major said of the timelines for bringing her product to market.
As part of what she quipped has been an “egg-citing month,” Chisholm received a great deal of attention, along with a monetary boost.
For starters, she won the $10,000 first prize in a competition staged by 100 Seeds Atlantic, a non-profit organization created to foster youth entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada.
“It was absolutely amazing — the whole experience,” Chisholm said.
During a Jan. 18 celebration, she was selected as one of three finalists. “We had to pitch our idea in eight minutes or less,” Chisholm noted.
Was she nervous? “Not at all,” she said, notingher love for public speaking, something she was introduced to as an eight-year-old as part of the 4-H movement.
Each of the 100 entrepreneurs who contributed $100 apiece to the grand prize voted for the winning presentation.
“I was a little bit overwhelmed and super excited,” Chisholm said of that moment when she was named the winner.
“It was pretty special, knowing how far I have come in only one year.”
Only a couple weeks later, Chisholm participated in the BMO Apex Business Plan Competition at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where she collected second place in the undergraduate classification, best elevator pitch and people’s choice awards.
“I also received another $4,000 towards my business and had the opportunity to connect with investors and business leaders,” she said in an email.
-COREY LEBLANC -THE CASKET