This incredible story involves 13-year-old Mallory Kievman, an eighth grader in Connecticut, who will lead a team of M.B.A. students from the University of Connecticut in building a company that will bring her invention of hiccup-stopping lollipops — called Hiccupops — to market.
To rid herself of hiccups during the summer of 2010, Mallory experimented with a variety of concoctions in her family’s kitchen until she arrived at a combination of apple cider vinegar and sugar that is hardened into the shape of a lollipop.
In a matter-of-fact tone, Mallory told New York Time’s Jessica Bruder that her invention “triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc. It basically over-stimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup.”
Mallory experimented with more than 40 lollipop batches to find a formula that hardens well and is stable enough for shelf storage. That part is over now, she said, so she’s working on tweaking the taste and finding the right contract manufacturer.
“It was definitely difficult to find a proper formulation so you could have a shelf-stable product and have a product that did what it was supposed to do, to treat the hiccups,” said Mallory.
Mallory’s MBA student team was sent to her courtesy of the University of Connecticut after she won prizes for innovation and patentability for her patent-pending pops at the Connecticut Invention Convention competition for young entrepreneurs.
As part of her winnings, intellectual property lawyers filed for a patent, now pending, on Mallory’s behalf. The MBA students will get paid for their labor by the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a university hub that hosts the Innovation Accelerator program.
The Times notes Mallory has presented her product at a state economic summit and at the Xcellr8 Innovation Cell, a networking group. In January, she joined a group of Startup America entrepreneurs ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
Mallory wants to become a doctor and was happy to learn her Hiccupops lollipops will help cancer patients since hiccups are a common and uncomfortable side effect of chemotherapy, as well as dialysis and epilepsy medications.
“It always has been really appealing to me to be able to sort of have a product out there that can help people,” she said. “I want to become a doctor and go into medicine.”
In an interview with Tech Cocktail, a website covering emerging technology and startup events, Mallory said the hardest part of the business aspect was being a minor, and understanding different contractual technicalities.
“But also, it’s a little bit hard to balance, because I have recently been applying to high schools … So it was just finding a balance and carving out a time where I could create a successful business … a lot of the time it’s over vacations, on weekends — not as much on school nights but pretty much any other available time.”