Mawrter Made: Adaobi Kanu ’08
The Bronx-born entrepreneur wants to help shoppers meet their health goals with a newly launched app
Born and raised in the Bronx, Adaobi Kanu ’08, a physics and dance double-major at Bryn Mawr, has felt the pull of entrepreneurship since her student days. Recently, Kanu launched her own company, Vitalcart, which she describes as “a food discovery platform that enables everyday shoppers to find the products that are directly aligned with their particular health goals and needs.”
The idea: Vitalcart is a personalized browser extension, and as you shop for groceries online, it shows you top choices for your own health goals. Our beta is launching this year so we can bring people onto our platform. We really want to get it in the hands of real people, real shoppers, to continue to learn how we can make it better.
Behind The idea: A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency. My immediate reaction was, OK, I will just prioritize finding products that are highest in iron. But how do you do that? You can go to the grocery store, look at the shelf that has hundreds of products, and flip over every one of them. That’s what I did for a really long time.
I did find a few products that were the “ones.” But then you’re just eating the same thing over and over. Where’s the variety? It took hours of research to discover a new product that’s actually aligned with my health. That’s ridiculous.
I realized there has to be a way for us to create something that employs technology and makes it easier for people, whether you have a health condition or a
particular diet, like keto.
Seeds of entrepreneurship: While at Bryn Mawr, I started a program called Street Outreach and received some funding from the Dean’s Office for it. We collected food that hadn’t been used in the dining halls and built partnerships with local shelters. I also started a therapeutic arts program for homeless men. Both of these experiences kickstarted my overall passion for entrepreneurship. Bryn Mawr was that first safe space to pursue funding, to uncover networking opportunities, and to build out partnerships with organizations.
Business and creativity: After graduation, I worked on various programs including bringing therapeutic art services to shelters. After running these initiatives, I realized that I wanted to get a business degree to leverage business and creativity. Communities like Bryn Mawr and the Quaker boarding school I attended were very specific environments that put me on this path of seeing the value in social entrepreneurship and the ways in which we can change the world.
Starting up: My plan right out of business school was to work with different retailers and then explore the world of startups. I worked for Maclaren, a baby products company. After that, I worked with a pet food delivery service, and then I moved over to a fertility company. I remember being very vocal in my interview process there, telling the founder I wanted to start a company and soon.
Deep dig: During the pandemic, I committed myself full time to being an entrepreneur. I spent months digging deep with my mentor to uncover my passion, and it was health and wellness. I went through a founders’ boot camp program to figure out the specific problem I wanted to solve. I connected with a venture capital firm, M13, went through an incubator with them, and closed out my seed round. I’m now in the process of building my team and the product, creating something that we can put out into the world.
Visit vitalcart.co to learn more and to sign up for the private beta launch.
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