A 13-year old girl develops an innovative way of curing hiccups using lollipops.
To silence her stubborn hiccups during the summer of 2010, Mallory Kievman attempted at swallowing saltwater, making herself gag, eating a spoonful of sugar, sipping pickle juice and drinking a glass of water upside-down.
Almost two years and 100 attempted folk remedies later, the 13-year-old is preparing to lead a team of M.B.A. students from the University of Connecticut in building a company that can bring her invention - Hiccupops, or hiccup-stopping lollipops - to market this summer.
"It's very rare, when you're evaluating businesses, that you can envision a company or product being around 100 years from now," New York Times quoted Danny Briere, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Startup Connecticut, which nurtures new companies, including Hiccupops, and is a regional affiliate of the Startup America Partnership, as saying.
"Hiccupops is one of those things. It solves a very simple, basic need."
Mallory met Briere last spring at the Connecticut Invention Convention, an annual competition for kids.
"I went there, and I knew it would either be a hit or a miss project," she said.
"People would either like it, or they would think I was crazy."
She had developed the product in her family's Manchester, Conn., kitchen, combining her three favourite cures - lollipops, apple cider vinegar and sugar - into a single confection.
"It triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc," said Mallory with a matter-of-fact tone.
"It basically over-stimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup."
The judges did not consider her to be crazy. Instead, they awarded Hiccupops prizes for innovation and patentability. As part of her winnings, intellectual property lawyers filed for a patent, now pending, on Mallory's behalf.
She will soon have her own team of consultants also. The University of Connecticut's Innovation Accelerator intends to dispatch a group of graduate business students this summer to help push Hiccupops out into the world.
The students will work from late May through August and get paid for their toil by the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a university hub that hosts the Innovation Accelerator program. The centre's executive director, Christopher Levesque, will be their mentor.
"It's a nifty invention and it has some terrific potential benefits for society," said Levesque.
"It straddles that line between an attractive, go-to product that people might like to savor and a helpful nutraceutical aid. It's innovative, born of some real ingenuity."
Mallory expects Hiccupops to become a staple of school nurses' offices and drugstores. She also intends exploring a medical niche, since hiccups are a common and uncomfortable side effect of chemotherapy.
"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," she added.