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"The Lang Center team became a big part of my development and of brining Happy Family to Fruition"
Shazi Visram came up with the idea for Happy Family after watching a friend prepare baby food in her kitchen for her infant because healthy food options in stores seemed to be missing. The preparation took a lot of time and work, and was not practical. Visram thought there had to be a better way.
What began as Happy Baby — a minimally processed frozen, organic alternative to baby food in a jar — has since grown into a comprehensive line of products for the whole family. “We have evolved from my initial vision which was changing the way babies are fed in this country to include toddlers and now it has become ‘changing health and wellness for today’s young families,” Visram said.
The evolution has really made the company step it up in turns of innovation and bigger picture thinking. What is fairly new is a partnership with Groupe Danone who is now the major-owner of Happy Family. “We partnered with Groupe Danone, who is the second largest producer of baby food in the world. They are renowned for their nutrition research and development capabilities, and their commitment to safety and quality parallels Happy Family’s. It is a good match.”
Visram came to Columbia Business School knowing she wanted to start a business and chart her own way, and for that reason the Lang Center was the one place she felt at home. She believes that having the right people in your life makes all the difference. “My first strong role models were my mother and father who gave me a taste for following my dreams,” Visram said, “and later Professor Clifford Schorer and the Lang Center team became a big part of my development and of bringing Happy Family to fruition.”
What Visram found most challenging was not just developing an idea but tactically executing it. “It was about not feeling alone and feeling supported,” she added. “Courses like Intro to Venturing, Launching New Ventures, and the Greenhouse Program were such formative experiences. It was the most tactical, hands-on experience I could have asked for as I continued to revise my business plan.”
In 2011, Visram earned the title of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for New York. Happy Family has been named as one of the fastest growing organic food companies in the nation by Inc. magazine for two years running, and was named “Rockstar of the New Economy” by Fast Company in 2012.
Happy Family is now sold in over 30 countries and has close to 100 products. The company continues to grow and evolve. “Business continues to boom and the partnership with Groupe Danone will make the dream of becoming a global brand a reality. Our future looks happy and bright.”
Visram was presented with the Early Achievement Award at the 2016 Centennial Dinner: