This teen CEO’s ‘sweet’ company fights tooth decay
Here’s a question we’ve pondered for decades… how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? The science has spoken! A study in the journal of fluid mechanics reveals it takes 25-hundred licks. But with each lick your child is putting their mouth, they’re risking their pearly whites! Believe it or not,
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Candy and soda are two big culprits. But one company is combating that, with an unlikely product, and an equally unlikely CEO.
“My dad always told me, ‘You know you shouldn’t have candy. Sugar is terrible for your teeth,’” Alina Morse, CEO of Zolli Candy explained. But Morse wasn’t going to accept it. “So, I asked him, ‘Why can’t we make a healthy candy?’”
And that is how Zollipop was born. It’s a lollipop that cleans your teeth. Its inventor, the youngest CEO ever to grace the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine.
The idea came to Morse at 7. She cooked up concoctions, asked her dentist questions, and had friends sample them.
Zollipops use a low-calorie sweetener called erythritol. It reduces the acid in your mouth that causes bacteria, which can break down enamel. She used $4,000 she saved from past birthdays. Her dad matched it and together they found a production facility and distributor.
By 9 years old she got her first yes, and 18 months later she turned a profit. Now, it’s a multimillion-dollar company with products in many of the nation’s largest retailers and in seven countries.
Her top tips for wannabe business owners: Write it down, use support networks and social media groups, gather a team you trust and ask a lot of questions.
“As adults we kind of quit asking questions, but kids haven’t tried things, and they have great questions. And listen and explore those ideas with them,” said Tom Morse, Alina’s dad and Manager of Zolli Candy.
Alina Morse’s future mission is to create, or as she says, “zolli-fy” more products.
“It really is not only a successful company in my eyes… But also a company doing good,” Alina explained of her mission for the company.
Her nonprofit, A Million Smiles, gives free candy to schools. Ten percent of all her sales goes to support oral health education. Teachers interested in A Million Smiles can go to Zolli Candy’s website to sign up.