Partnering with a Celebrity Chef to Create a New Food Product

Small Business Spotlight: Serendipity Foods

Who: Jimmy Lee

What: Whipped salad dressings, approved by a celebrity chef and nutritionist

When: 2011

Where: New York, NY

How: Founder Jimmy Lee has worked in startups his whole career, including stints as an early stage health care investor in Philadelphia and New York City. After coming up with the idea for whipped salad dressings, Lee built his own team of consumer goods and food experts to help him bring his product to market.

“The packaging is unique, like whipped cream in a can,” says Lee. Each of the five Serendipity dressings has only 15-calories; registered dietitian and Chief Nutrition Officer Katherine Brooking helped develop the recipe.

Also advising Serendipity is David Burke, a celebrity chef who has been featured on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters.

Biggest challenge: Lee says building a consumer packaged goods company has its own specific hurdles: “We’re going through [the] process of making sure that we’re branding the company correctly.”

One moment in time: Lee is proudest of creating a great product, and turning an idea into reality. “It has a great taste, and it can provide value that is huge from a health standpoint,” says Lee.

Best business advice: “Always work with your grocers from the earliest point,” advises Lee. “Even during the R&D period, we met them early on and kept them in the loop … We almost treated them as business partners.”