MBA Program: Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
Industry: Pediatric Health and Wellness
Founding Student Names: Melissa Antal (MBA’19) and Dr. Maria E. Rivera
Brief Description of Solution: We are the digital hub for pediatric nutrition. We combine the latest evidence in child development, nutrition, and behavioral science with a network of a nation’s pediatric feeding experts to make it easier for parents to feed their kids. Through our app, parents can access practical, predictive advice and personalized support.
Funding Dollars: Self-funded with the help of friends and family
What led you to launch this venture? Two years ago, I was working in international development managing large nutrition programs abroad while also completing my MBA part-time. One year into the program, I was no longer able to travel because I was missing too much class. That meant I was no longer able to work alongside my colleagues and go meet program participants, which was really hard for me! I knew my jet-setting life was over (for now) so I started to search for jobs and companies that fit me and matched my view of the world. I could not find what I was looking for. Around that same time, I took a class where I explored an idea in just one week. That idea, which turned out to be the problem Foublie solves, never got out of my head. Why did the mothers in my programs in Cambodia and Zimbabwe have better access to nutrition experts and resources than my friends in the United States? At the same time, my co-founder, Dr. Maria Rivera, a pediatrician, was fielding questions on nutrition from her patients and friends and she even had her own questions on feeding kids. Months later, Foublie was born.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with this venture? I am most proud of building Foublie from an idea to where it is today, a functioning technology platform for pediatric nutrition. However, I did not do it alone, and that is my biggest accomplishment.
Foublie was built in partnership with my co-founder, Dr. Maria Rivera, who is someone I did not even know when we started working together to prep for a pitch competition. Finding someone you can work, trust, and dream big with will drive us further to grow our customer base and to be a resilient business.
Also on the team are 35 registered dietitian nutritionists who live across the United States. These people are experts in pediatric nutrition and bring their personal and professional experience in managing food allergies, being parents, and more. They believe in us and (better yet) believe in Foublie. Their support and passion for nutrition motivate us every day. When days are good and bad, the people around you make the difference.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? I never thought this was my path. I never thought I would have an idea. Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business was there every step of the way. I utilized Georgetown Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program for mentorship. I joined Georgetown Entrepreneurship to network with the startup community inside the university and in the Washington, D.C. area. I took coursework that taught me the foundations to run a business and used my business as class case studies to further our plans. I won over $30,000 in prize money and investments to help us get started at university-sponsored pitch competitions. My classmates are some of my advisors, customers, and cheerleaders. There is no way Foublie would be a business had it not been for Georgetown McDonough.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? I love Sara Blakely’s story. When I meet her, I will thank her for telling it! She is candid about the ups-and-the-downs. She is resilient. She hustles. Most importantly, she is real.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Different classes have been useful at different stages of this startup journey. The class that inspired me to start Foublie is called Innovation Factory taught by Eric Koester. It is a special type of class called an “intensive learning experience” that is three credits completed in two weeks. While working full time, this is quite a lot! At the end of the week, I won a prize, which gave me confidence, but Eric also checked in weekly for a few months afterward and that gave me accountability. After that, my general marketing and analytical problem-solving classes have proven handy every week! In every class, I was able to apply the skills I learned immediately to my business. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to be a judge in Eric’s class, two years after I had taken it. I was impressed with the business ideas and the passion of the students! I hope to be a resource for those who are considering the entrepreneurial path. My biggest lesson I have gained: if there is an idea in your head that you cannot turn off, then go make it happen.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? We want to elevate the field of nutrition to make nutrition and the food we eat a core component to the care children get in the US and around the world. By supporting parents in the early days and years of feeding their kids, we can establish healthy behaviors that will prevent future diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Our kids can be the first generation to have a healthy relationship with food. Our long-term goal is to create a public health impact for the United States and beyond.