While many dream of starting a business, few are able to make it a reality at the young age of fourteen. Yet, that is how it happened for Lake Zurich High School Freshman, Dean Lambertsen, the proud owner of Passport Cuisines.
Passport Cuisines makes ethnic cuisine cooking kits with all the necessary dry ingredients to create an entree, two side dishes, dessert, and drinks to serve 4-5 people. The kit saves the consumer time and money by not having to search for expensive, hard to find ingredients. Currently, there are three types of kits available; Punjabi Indian, South African and Korean.
Dean’s idea for Passport Cuisines developed while he was a student in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a year-long after school program that teaches teens how to start a business. The program was sponsored by the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce (LZACC), where the LZACC’s executive director and local business owners served as the instructors and mentors.
“One of our first assignments was to explore business ideas, so I started thinking about my hobbies as possible businesses,” explains Dean. “One of my hobbies is cooking global cuisine. Ethnic friends taught my mom how to cook global cuisine, even taking her to ethnic markets so she could learn how to shop for ingredients. I always noticed how complicated and expensive these shopping trips were, so I decided to create a business that could simplify the process and make it more economical and fun.”
With this idea in mind, Dean developed his business plan. Upon completion of his plan, he and fellow YEA! students presented to an investor panel with the hopes of receiving seed money to actually start their businesses. Dean was not only awarded $2,000 to start Passport Cuisines, he was selected to represent his class at the YEA! Regional Competition in Boca Raton, Florida. There he competed against 30 other students, receiving the runner-up Founders Award for his business idea.
After Regionals, Dean completed all of the paperwork and procedures necessary to start selling Passport Cuisines online and at the Lake Zurich Farmers’ Market. Within his first two weeks of selling, he exceeded his yearly sales goal.
“Customers love the kits, and have returned to buy more. They use the kits for family meals, gifts, and even teen cooking parties. The kits also introduce customers to global cuisines that they may not have originally thought to cook.” The next goal for Passport Cuisines is to sell kits within a locally owned store. “We have a friend that was able to get her product into a store, so I am hoping to learn how to make that a possibility for my product.”
Dean believes his success with Passport Cuisines would not have been possible without the time, talent, and support from the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, the local business owners, and YEA!. “For that, I am very grateful and thankful!”
Please visit PassportCuisines.com or Passport Cuisines’ Facebook page for more information.