‘I chose to be here along the way’
Carson Kolberg may have just graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, but he and his business are preparing to take off.
Kolberg, along with his co-partner Irene DiVaris, sells mason jars full of salads and entrees as a means to promote portion control and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at various locations in the Waterloo Region. The meals range from salads such as apple chicken and Greek chicken, while the entrees include no-butter chicken and pulled pork and mashed potatoes. This business is fittingly named, Meal in a Jar.
“We don’t have a professional chef background, we don’t have experience other than being passionate cooks, so it definitely took making things from scratch and having a trial and error,” Kolberg said. “Making food that is inherently healthy, fresh and energizing is always a factor – we stay away from white flour and white sugar. We stick to vibrant ingredients and we mash it up into a day’s work.”
After finishing high school, Kolberg lived in France before going to university and he worked at a pub in a ski shop. While there, he had a chance to see a small business operating and bringing a good menu to that space. Kolberg had researched a number of unique recipes and they had been well received by skiers and his managers.
Towards the end of his university career, Kolberg had experience in the entrepreneurial activities but not on the full profit business side. In his last semester, he came across Laurier LaunchPad, a program that helps student entrepreneurs develop their businesses. With his experience with food still in the back of his mind, Kolberg pitched the idea of promoting healthy and easy eating for students. After 12 weeks in the program, Kolberg went from simply having an idea to having a full product on store shelves in the city.
“In short, it started when I was younger when I had an idea to build something,” Kolberg said.“I had great opportunities in extra curriculars through Laurier; to get involved with going on entrepreneurial ventures, then the LaunchPad program really gave me a break to get out there and build something real.”
Kolberg and DiVaris also had an audition with the popular Canadian TV show, Dragon’s Den, and will find out the results towards the end of February or beginning of March.While Meal in a Jar is just lifting off, Kolberg is hoping that in the future, the business will continue to promote healthy living on a much larger scale.
“I would like to see in ten years Meal in a Jar be a household name and be something that when you say healthy and fresh food, it just pops into your head,” Kolberg said. “I’m very passionate about creating meaningful foods, following movements and being actively part of movements and exciting things. I just want to see people eating well.”
Though thinking about where he and his business will be in ten years is a scary thought for him, Kolberg is thankful for the privileges that Laurier and the Laurier LaunchPad have given him to help Meal in a Jar kick off. If he hadn’t been at Laurier, Meal in a Jar would not be where it is today.
“The only reason I am who I am is because I chose to be here along the way,” Kolberg said.
“I got really involved in school and I found my passion and Meal in a Jar came out of that. I really can’t be more appreciative for the experience.”