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Help a MassChallenge startup: Off the Cob

Posted by Chad O'Connor  February 13, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Off the Cob get started?
Off the Cob Founder Cameron Sheldrake, age 22, had a great appreciation for natural food. However his began at the age of 6 working on his parent’s vegetable and flower farm in Ithaca, NY. While purchasing snacks for late night studying at Babson he noticed that all the chips on the shelf were made from dry field corn that is high in starch. The majority use GMO grain and copy each other’s flavors of black bean, lime, sweet potato and multi-grain. None were made with sweet corn. Here was something different that could appeal to American’s love of snacks and sweet palate. In his third year at Babson, Cameron began experimenting with recipes to see which expressed the fullest flavor of sweet corn.

By the fall of Cameron’s senior year the recipe was perfected - sweeter, less salty with a crisp, lighter texture than other shelf brands. Off the Cob was presented at Babson’s annual Entrepreneurial Thought and Action Challenge in the spring of 2012. The brand won 1st place of $20,000 and subsequently went on to raise $15,000 for operational expenses via a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Through Babson, Cameron connected to YouthTrade, a nonprofit incubator which exposes socially conscious entrepreneurs under the age of 35 with retailers and consumers. Whole Foods fell in love with Off the Cob’s mission and flavor. The brand was launched in 19 Whole Foods in December 2012.

What does Off the Cob do?
Off the Cob makes tortilla chips with organic white and yellow corn mixed with sweet corn. Only 1% of corn grown in the US is of the sweet variety - all others are field (otherwise known as cow corn). Whereas field corn is dried on the stalk so it can be harvested by combines, sweet corn is higher in moisture, lower in starch and higher in sugar so it must harvested immediately at peak maturation.

Off the Cob buys GMO free white and yellow corn from small organic farms within 100 miles of its factory near Cleveland, OH. The sweet corn is sourced from small family farms in Illinois. Off the Cob believes it is time for a better solution to GMO grain that is widely used in snacks and accepted by the FDA.

How can our readers be of help?
1. Try our chips. They are available at Whole Foods and many smaller stores around Boston. Refer to www.offthecobchips.com for retail locations.

2. Start a conversation about farming. Given the rising rates of cancer and obesity it is important that adults and children know where their food comes from, its constitution and how it is grown. The more Americans are educated, the safer consumers will be.

3. Share our story. America was founded on entrepreneurism. Natural foods is one of the fastest growing retail sectors given health and social consciousnesses today. Off the Cob is driven to challenge the retail snack category and the U.S. agricultural system with a sustainable business model that embraces organic methods. Please help to get the word out about the brand.

4. Connect. Do you know of a store that aligns with Off the Cob’s mission? Tell us! Stay tuned for future flavors on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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