Talk about innovation. Jeremiah Chapman, 24, founded FreshFry LLC, a Louisville-based start up that manufactures the FreshFry pods and other innovative frying technologies. FreshFry pods use adsorption kinetics to cleanse oil being used in deep fryers. This extends the life of the oil so that restaurants can reduce costs. The company also produces Fryer Eye, a sensor that monitors the oil quality in a deep fryer.
Chapman, Woodford R. Porter Scholar and 2012 University of Florida graduate of the Speed School of Engineering, recently spoke with TNJ.com
TNJ.com: You offer such unique products, how did you come up with the concept?
Jeremiah Chapman: I have always worked with biodiesel and used waste frying oils to create fuel. One day I got a call from a restaurant stating that they had three times the amount of oil I could process, but it was useless to them. Since I was making such a valuable product (biodiesel) from their waste stream (frying oil), I knew there had to be value in extending the life of it. That is where FreshFry began.
TNJ.com: What were some startup challenges and how did you overcome them?
JC: One of the biggest challenges I have had as a start up was actually executing the things I would just talk about. I call this “analysis paralysis.” I am a big planner and I like to have the trip lined out before the first step, accounting for all the risk. It took a push from a friend to get me going, but now I love the fact that I can have an idea and I can get the answer just by trying. All it took was a little faith from someone else, and a chance to just prove an idea.
TNJ.com: What has been your biggest business lesson thus far?
JC: Being an engineer (and a planner), I always want to develop something before it is ever used and have it completed with all the features and add-ons that you could imagine. As an entrepreneur, I had to learn the concept of releasing and iterating. Instead of having a complete product ready, you get the minimum out the door and ask for customer feedback. That way, every “feature” added has a purpose and a customer that needs it.
TNJ.com: What are the company’s goals for 2015?
JC: Continue with development of our second generation product and begin to ramp up manufacturing.
TNJ.com: Have you run into obstacles due to your youth or race?
JC: With both cases, it all boils down to expectations. People may expect less of you because of your cultural identity, age, gender, socioeconomic status or really anything. Luckily, it is up to you to prove them right or wrong. People do this in many ways, but I took the advice and support of those who thought highly of me and their sacrifices as motivation. They believed in me when others didn’t, I owe it to them to show how grateful I am.
TNJ.com: What do you love about what you do?
JC: The challenge. There is always a problem and a solution, it just takes something to connect them. It is awesome when I get to be that connection, but I love it when I can help others do the same.
TNJ.com: What do you do outside of work?
JC: I really enjoy cooking and working out. Cooking is a lot like chemistry, taking ingredients and creating something new from them. Cooking is my way to use chemistry and creativity together. That is why I have such a passion for the kitchen.