Emerging from thousands of competitors, Jackson-based EasyKale Labs LLC has made it to the final round of Pepperdine Graziadio Business School’s “Most Fundable Companies” competition. EasyKale Labs was co-founded by Bilal Qizilbash and Richard A. Sun, CFA, both of whom were named 2019 Mississippi Top Entrepreneurs by the Mississippi Business Journal.
The competition started a few months ago with more than 3,500 entries, which judges then narrowed down to 100 semi-finalists in July. Each semi-finalist had to complete an extensive “Fundability Assessment,” and Qizilbash just learned of his company’s status as a finalist.
“I still can’t believe it. We know we have a great product, and we provided solid information in our assessment documents, but with the stiff national-level competition we are up against, we just weren’t sure where we would stack up. We are thrilled to be a finalist,” said Qizilbash.
Bilal’s EasyKale™ is still relatively new, launched in March 2019 as a 100% USDA organic product, sold via Amazon.com. It is a virtually tasteless, textureless, powdered form of kale crafted by an unusual process. It is inherently healthy, is grown on a sustainable farm and, once it is turned into powder, it has a low-level, pleasant smell when compared to fresh kale. The product has all of the health benefits of kale and can be added to any food, soup, sauce, drink, dip or smoothie.
“When I was studying for my master’s degree in medical sciences, I found that juiced curly kale selectively kills melanoma cancer cells in vitro while not affecting non-cancerous cells,” Qizilbash said. After that discovery, Qizilbash was driven to make it easier for people to add kale to their diets.
Leading up to the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School recognition, EasyKale hit several key milestones.
In May 2019, EasyKale was invited to participate, along with several major brands, in the Loop Zero-Waste Shopping Platform. Loop provides shoppers a way to buy some of their favorite products in reusable packaging delivered in a “tote” by UPS.
Additionally, in early June, Qizilbash announced at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, that he and his research collaborator Dr. Elizabeth Brandon, associate professor of biology at Belhaven University, had discovered that juiced kale kills certain types of liver cancer cells in vitro while not affecting non-cancerous cells. This was in addition to their previous discovery that juiced kale kills melanoma cells in vitro (U.S. Patent 9,919,016).
According to Craig R. Everett, Ph.D., director of Pepperdine’s Private Capital Markets Project, the 2019 Pepperdine Most Fundable Companies List winners will be notified before September 13, 2019. The winners will be featured on October 17, 2019 at the competition’s showcase event in Malibu, California and again in November via recognition in Entrepreneur magazine.
EasyKale is sold on Amazon and has recently been selected as an Amazon’s Choice product.