JWU entrepreneurs Luis Rivera + Becky Giambarresi of Hippothecary, a line of therapeutic foods + apothecary goods.
Can food be medicine? JWU culinary nutrition graduates — and budding entrepreneurs — Becky Giambarresi and Luis Rivera have started Hippothecary, a line of therapeutic foods + apothecary goods designed to target and prevent disease.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates. This is not only a widely quoted phrase spoken by the father of Western medicine, but also a personal belief of Giambarresi and Rivera, founders of Hippothecary Food Pharmacy, a line of therapeutic food products designed to aid in the treatment of specific chronic health conditions.
Targeting Disease with Therapeutic Foods
Hippothecary’s mission is to bridge the gap between holistic nutrition, modern medicine and genetics to lessen the pains caused by chronic disease through the use of therapeutic foods.
Giambarresi and Rivera, both recent graduates of JWU’s Culinary Nutrition program in Providence, RI, believe that the products they are developing under the Hippothecary brand can not only serve as a treatment for many common ailments, but will help combat the idea that foods that are good for you can’t also taste great.
“We wanted to keep food fun,” Giambarresi explained, “which is why we were drawn to more ‘sinful snack foods’, and decided to start with ice cream.”
Hippothecary is protoyping 3 lines of ice cream products currently: one focused on heart health, one focused on brain health, and one focused on digestive health.
Elegant plated dessert featuring Hippothecary’s ginger honey ice cream, dark chocolate shells, roasted cashew dust and berry “butter” extract, all topped with a candied orchid petal.
“The main difference between our lines of ice creams are the ingredients that we put in them,” notes Giambarresi. “The heart healthy line is full of healthy fats; the digestive line is full of plant fibers. We are also going for a high protein ice cream line that addresses brain health.”
All Hippothecary ice creams are 100% vegan. Says Giambarresi. “We are still working on the flavors, however we do have a mocha chip, vanilla, pina colada, and mint chocolate chunk that we have been experimenting with.”
Finding Mentors at JWU
Giambarresi and Rivera were encouraged by Dr. Michael Budziszek, their now-business partner and former instructor, to visit The Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship (also known as the eCenter) when they first began to develop the concept that would become Hippothecary.
“Dr. Budziszek has been such a great mentor to Luis and me,” Giambarresi said. “He saw the potential in our idea, and thought John Robitaille [eCenter Executive in Residence] and the rest of the staff at the eCenter could help us make our vision a reality.”
Becky and Luis epitomize the student entrepreneur.” - JOHN ROBITAILLE
Hippothecary’s Rivera + Gambarresi with toy designers Mave Jopson and Cynthia Poon at One Million Cups, a weekly entrepreneurship forum hosted at JWU’s eCenter.
It was through their involvement in the eCenter that they learned about JWU’s annual Sharkfest competition. Student and alumni finalists from across all 4 of JWU’s campuses had 90 seconds to pitch their venture to a panel of judges. The judges were then given 3 minutes to ask additional questions.
The top 3 pitches, as well as the People’s Choice winner (voted on by audience members), were provided with seed funding for their business. Hippothecary received the People’s Choice award, and was given a stipend of $500, as well as mentoring by an industry professional and additional assistance from, as well as an office in, the eCenter.
With a business plan firmly in place, Giambarresi and Rivera have begun reaching out to local ice cream vendors, sports clubs, and artisanal shops.
In addition, both plan to continue their health science education: Giambarresi hopes to earn her masters in PA studies at JWU, while Rivera wants to pursue a naturopathic doctorate.
Epitomizing the Student Entrepreneur
“Becky and Luis epitomize the student entrepreneur,” Robitaille said. “Their grit, determination and willingness to learn, along with their knowledge of nutrition and product development, have resulted in the maturing of their concept from a simple idea into viable commercial business model. (Giambarresi was recently named a 2015 Inspiring Young Entrepreneur by the RI Small Business Journal.)
The duo are still finalizing their formulae and packaging, but plan to have an official launch in time for the 9th Annual Natural Living Expo in November.
“We hope to do some small launches at events and local farmers’ markets in the meantime,” notes Giambarresi.
The Hippothecary website is still a work-in-progress, but for now you can reach out on Twitter: @thehippothecary.
BONUS: Watch the video introduction to Hippothecary that Becky and Luis shot at JWU as their application for the 2015 Sharkfest.