CSU entrepreneurs make eating healthy a no-brainer

Amy Sheflin and Carolyn Hoagland want to make eating healthy a no-brainer. “Modern foods have been villainized,” says Sheflin, a Ph.D. student in Colorado State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “They are fast and tasty, but sometimes they are not very nutritious. People want to be healthy and think they should be eating differently, but they don’t know how.”

Make eating healthy a no-brainer

PrintSheflin and Hoagland, a Ph.D. student in CSU’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, decided to address the problem head on. Their start-up company, Wise Art Foods, and its flagship product InfusiBoost, are competing for the $20,000 prize in the Collegiate Competition of the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge, one of the richest business pitch competitions in the country.

The two met while pursuing master’s degrees in CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences where they hatched the idea for a product that cooks could add to their meals to enhance the nutritional value. Their idea takes the form of a scoop or simmer bag of natural superfoods which help boost immunity and gastrointestinal health that can be added to meals prepared at home.

Boosting flavor and nutrition

The InfusiBoost products contain superfoods such as vegetables, greens, prebiotics, herbs, and spices that will boost flavor along with nutrition. It can be added to a variety of meals that people typically prepare and will come in different flavors such as Thai, Latin, or Italian.

Sheflin and Hoagland would like to jumpstart a paradigm shift away from the artificial additives, sweeteners, and flavorings that are part of today’s industrial food landscape, to using whole functional foods as ingredients that boost flavor and nutritional value. They maintain that busy people can prepare tasty and convenient meals that pack a nutritional punch. Wise Art Foods aims to offer an array of products that enables home cooks to achieve that goal.

Creating a sustainable food system

While improving peoples’ diets, the two also want to help create a more sustainable food system. Sheflin’s research focuses on the human microbiome and how foods react with the human body, and Hoagland is an expert in the soil microbiome and what plants need to provide maximum nutrition. They plan to use U.S. sourced, locally grown superfoods as much as possible, because of better sourcing information and accountability.

They plan to buy organic and expect to carry the organic label. Examples of their ingredients include native herbs and berries, a greens blend, mushrooms that play several different health roles, a veggie blend, carrots, and beets, which will be for the most part freeze dried, offering equal or superior nutritional value to frozen vegetables.

Be a part of the a focus group

The team is about to launch a test phase of their product, where people can sign up to be a part of a focus group to try out the different formulations and provide feedback. Go to wiseartfoods.com to learn more.

Wise Art Foods is one of 13 businesses selected out of the more than 130 that applied to compete in the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge Collegiate Competition on May 27. The winning team will be entered automatically in the Enterprise Competition, which has a grand prize of $250,000. In addition, teams are eligible to compete in the Trolley Pitch Competition and Invest-In-Me Game with the opportunity to win cash prizes. There is no charge to attend the competitions, but registration is required. For more information, see http://blueoceanchallenge.com/.

Although they would love to win the competition, Sheflin and Hoagland are excited about the many opportunities involved with just participating, from the coaching and training opportunities, to the chance to be heard by investors and get connected to the Fort Collins business community and to fellow competitors. “We feel very grateful to be a part of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge. We have more tools to work with now to help get our business off the ground and we feel lucky and honored to be chosen,” said Sheflin.

Blue Ocean Enterprises

Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., Blue Ocean Enterprises is a management company established in 2011 by Otter Products Founder and Chairman Curt Richardson and his wife, Nancy Richardson (’82).

The College of Business at Colorado State University is sponsoring the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge.