Bilal Qizilbash founded EasyKale after he discovered, while studying for a master’s degree in medical science, that juiced curly kale would kill melanoma cancer cells in vitro. That discovery led him on a dual-pronged quest to continue that cancer research and to get more people to add kale to their diets. The result is EasyKale, 100% USDA-certified organic powdered kale in an easy “shake-on” container.
To pursue both of those—cancer research and product marketing—the Mississippi Seed Fund, managed by Innovate Mississippi, has awarded EasyKale a New Technology Award at the highest level available, $100,000.
“We’re excited about the consumer product angle, the medical research opportunities and a strong brand that they’re building out of Mississippi,” said Tony Jeff, CEO of Innovate Mississippi, which oversees the Mississippi Seed Fund. “This should allow them to expand their market as well as their medical research.”
Qizilbash said that sales in 2020 have been up “682% since last year,” and that the opportunity to further hone the marketing on EasyKale is exciting. “We’ve got a whole new website and photoshoot—Nick Wallace (local chef) helped with the food for the photos.”
Qizilbash had expected to present at South By Southwest this year, but COVID-19 scuttled the international festival. Instead, he says, “We get to be a Finalist for a whole year,” as they’ll be presenting in 2021. Meanwhile, he feels that sales are up for EasyKale during COVID-19, as people look for ways to add more nutrients to their food.
He’s also excited to be back in the lab, working to find out other cancers that kale may be effective against and building a body of work that could lead to cancer treatments based on naturally occurring plants and vegetables.
In the meantime, he’s also continuing his efforts locally in the Jackson area through his non-profit, the Draw-a-Smile Foundation, to which EasyKale pledges a portion of its profits. Along with feeding the homeless every Friday in downtown Jackson, Qizilbash said he’s working with the Dole Food Company—along with we are also working with the Jackson Emergency Action Coalition, the Boys and Girls Club, Galloway Elementary, and The Sykes Park Community Center—to provide meals to 6,000 JPS students daily.
“Granola bars, bananas, chocolate syrup, and walnuts—it’s some really good-looking food,” he said, laughing.