It’s not every day that you come across an entrepreneur who’s in high school, let alone one who created their product when they were still in seventh grade. Mallory Kievman, 17, of Manchester, Connecticut, is one of those exceptions because for a good portion of her life, she has dealt with severe hiccups.
“I started this project in the seventh grade. I was just having problems with hiccups myself and I did a lot of online research into many rumored and folk remedies. I ended up testing out a lot of them, and I found three that worked for me, which were apple cider vinegar, sugar, and the actual form of the lollipop. However, apple cider vinegar is really difficult to drink, so I had to combine all three into a more powerful treatment for the hiccups,” Kievman explained.
“I tried basically everything – holding your breath, drinking water. I drank pickle juice once, but those three [sugar, apple cider vinegar, and lollipops] as I looked into the ingredients as to why they might potentially work, I found that they had some scientific basis as to why they might work to treat the hiccups,” she continued.
The scientific basis is the overstimulation these ingredients can cause in the nerves in the throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccups.
According to Mayo Clinic, hiccups are the “involuntary contractions of the diaphragm.” Each contraction closes the vocal chords, which causes the sound people associate with hiccups. There are many causes to hiccups. Hiccups that last less than 48 hours can be caused by everyday occurrences such as ingesting too much carbonated drinks, overexcitement or stress. However, there can be some more severe causes to hiccups that are symptoms of a major medical issue such as a tumor in the neck, encephalitis, meningitis and diabetes.
Hiccupops are currently available online on Kievman’s website, hiccupops.com. The Hiccupops are being manufactured in a small facility in Texas. Her next goal is to get them commercially manufactured on a widespread scale because hiccups can be a major medical issue. Kievman’s hope is to have them commercialized as soon as possible and approved by professionals in the medical field.
“I think there has been a very positive reception [to the product]. Obviously, there are people, there will always be people, who question the legitimacy of the product. I was only in 7th grade when I created it, but I think it is important to take a step back and realize that particularly for inventions, one of the best ways to staying in front of the STEM [Science Technology Engineering Math] field is by encouraging entrepreneurs and the commercialization of the inventions of kids that can later be tied back to different types of STEM knowledge because invention really is just the application of the STEM field,” Kievman said.
“I think that being young has been difficult, but I also think it can be helpful in terms of getting the product out there and being able to promote it. But I also think there is the obstacle because there is the challenge of legitimacy, whether or not this product work, whether or not it works the way I claim it does,” she added.
Getting the product approved within the medical field is not the only struggle she has dealt with.
“The hardest obstacle I faced would be getting the lollipops so that they can be manufactured in widespread settings especially since the lollipops are made of vinegar and have a coating of other sour acids on the outside. It has taken years. It has been about four years to get these consistently produced on a commercial scale,” Kievman explained.
Even launching the product was a complicated process. It first started with receiving the patent on Hiccupops.
“I actually got to do the patent process through [the] Connecticut Invention Convention. After I created the lollipops, I entered them in the Connecticut Invention Convention. Their award was for a free patent search, and they helped guide us through the process,” Kievman stated.
It was approximately $20,000 to finance the project, which was generated through personal funds and the Invention Convention.
“It hasn’t been funded through investors yet, but this year, we are looking to get investors,” she added.
Kievman is very humble and grateful for her success. For one, she is donating part of the profits to the convention that helped her out so much.
“As I went through the process, I worked really close with Invention Convention. They really are one of the main reasons that the lollipops have gotten to this point. They introduced us to so many people who have been helping get this launched. It helped me realize that this could be a legitimate product on the market [as] opposed to just an invention and Invention Convention has just been key in a lot of the aspects in getting this business up and running,” she said.
Kievman’s next plan is to start getting her product tested medically. She has been approached by a few different medical facilities and companies that would like to test her products on their patients and get them approved for hospitals. She also hopes that many young females will follow in her lead and become entrepreneurs.
“I would say the best advice I could give to young female entrepreneurs is to really go for it. If you have a project that you believe in, then continue to search around and find people who also believe in it with you because the greatest part of this is finding people who are as equally passionate about the project as you are and who are willing to help through whatever means,” she stated.
“I am not a typical STEM student in the way that I don’t necessarily excel in math and science in an academic setting, but that is OK because inventing has introduced me to this field in a way that I can use my strengths to my advantage, and I can invent things to solve problems and then learn about the science afterwards,” she added. “You don’t have to be a scientific prodigy in order to make a product that will help people and that will work effectively.”
Kaylene Hersey is an intern at Lioness and is currently a senior creative writing major at Western New England University. She is from Colchester, Conn. Besides writing, she has a passion for baking and dancing, and she hopes one day to work in the Editing and Publishing world. If that fails, she plans to open up her own bakery.