Just weeks into life after his MBA graduation,
Ajay Chawan '03 is preparing for the task he outlined in his
Kellogg School admissions essay two and a half years ago.
His goal then was — and still remains
— to become an entrepreneur. His business idea is a
food technology firm that promises to reduce the caloric absorption
of carbohydrates by as much as 40 percent. The potential business,
Heartland Health Solutions, relies on a technique developed
by Chawan's father and a business plan refined with help from
fellow students Brian Helm, Cyrus Mozayeni, Enrique Carrizosa
and Will Hahn, all '03.
Chawan's father, a food scientist, developed
a process to cut the caloric absorption of processed complex
carbohydrates in snack foods, breads, pastas and other edibles.
Although his father envisioned using the technique to help
diabetics control their glucose levels, the younger Chawan's
fellow students immediately saw an application for those trying
to lose weight.
"It's a way to enjoy the same foods with
fewer calories," Chawan says. "When you think about
the marketing opportunities, they're enormous."
Chawan began assembling the team of four students
for their food marketing, finance, medical and operations
know-how during his inaugural quarter at the Kellogg School.
The five took the class Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formulation
together last fall, where they wrote an initial draft of a
After a series of refinements, the students
entered the plan in the 2003 Carrot Capital Business Plan
Challenge, winning third place in the contest entered by 2,600
students. Now the challenge is to find the funding necessary
to get the business rolling.
Although Kellogg School professors typically
advise new graduates to gain more experience before venturing
out on their own, Chawan says he's ready to test his entrepreneurial
mettle. He worked in product development for Ford Motor Co.
for four years before beginning the Kellogg School's program.
"I applied to business school because
I wanted to control my own destiny," he says. "I
never really liked the idea of working for a big company.
I always wanted to do my own thing."