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This 17-year-old boy recovered from the coronavirus and started a candy brand to fight it

October 30, 2020

7 min read

This article has been translated from our English edition.


This 17-year-old boy recovered from the coronavirus and started a candy brand to fight it
This 17-year-old boy recovered from the coronavirus and started a candy brand to fight it

Hudson Hale is, in his opinion, young and “really healthy”. But when he signed COVID-19 in early September, it still took its toll. “I lost my taste for a week and a half,” said the 17-year-old student from Portland, Oregon and inventor of COVID Candies during a Zoom call. Behind him, Hale’s laboratory-like basement work area is adorned with design sketches, a framed New Yorker cover, and numerous neon green notes on a translucent board. “And I was always very nauseous and had a slight headache, always in the back of my head.”

He wasn’t alone in the Hale house. Her mother, who had similar symptoms, contracted the virus as did her little sister. His father, who had isolated himself from the family, was the only one saved.

But the ordeal turned Hale’s walk. He says he is “of course someone who is happiest when he’s busy” and adds: “I really can’t stand being alone in my own mind and lazing around.” He got it from his parents (his mother owns a restaurant chain and his father runs a house construction company), but he also admires iconic innovators like Steve Jobs (in his sleek black hoodie, Hale reminds us of a hybrid of Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg). And he knew that after being fortunate enough to fully recover, he couldn’t stand idly by.

“I was actually sitting here in my work area,” he explains, surveying his constructively disordered surroundings. “And I thought that it sucks to have COVID-19 and be sick and I really want to be able to help other people.” He realized the problem was figuring out exactly how to contribute. “But he had no money,” he recalls. “I’ve already volunteered my time for this other organization. They had a lot of 3D printers, so I printed some face shields for people at the front. But I felt like there was something else I could do.”

So Hale started to think about catchy brand ideas around Covid that didn’t seem insensitive or blatant. He was drawn to something alliterative and landed on the hard “c” synchronicity of COVID candies. (While Hale’s product has “COVID” in all of the capital letters, the entrepreneur’s style is simply to capitalize the “C”). At first he thought, “It sounds a little silly. I mean, they stand next to each other. Nobody wants to eat food that says ‘COVID’.”

Image: Hudson Hale

However, she decided, “I’m young. I have nothing to lose, so I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to create a candy brand.’

Inspired by the kompeitōHale, a Japanese rock candy with a strange coronavirus shape, began working on illustrations for the packaging and the candy itself. He reaffirms his inexperience as a virtue and admits that “the fact that I was a little naive has definitely allowed me to dive headfirst, make mistakes, and try to figure things out.”

One of the things that Hale immediately realized was that he couldn’t do it alone. Surprisingly, he did not turn to his enterprising parents for advice. Instead, he recruited his friend, 18-year-old Ryan Westcott, whom Hale describes as “similar to Steve Wozniak” for his inventor at Jobs. Of Westcott, Hale says, “He’s like the technical person who is able to make everything work and make sure my ideas don’t fall apart.”

Westcott has created a website that accepts most virtual quick-click payments and streamlines receiving and shipping processes. All of this was critical given Hale’s goal to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the snack for $ 12 per box to research and response related to COVID-19. They work with three such organizations specifically (he didn’t mention which ones), and Hale says that thanks to Westcott’s site architecture, “the nice thing is that when we sell, we don’t collect all of our money and then donate it.” When someone places an order, their money is donated directly to these organizations immediately after the purchase. “

Thanks to word of mouth and local media coverage, the website has been inundated with more assignments than it can fulfill without the occasional delay (Hale, after all, is still juggling her studies in the middle of a volatile school year – with no precedents). For Hale, it is basically an instant proof of concept that he can identify and satisfy a market need. Or in his own words, “It’s something like a smoke test when you try to run ads on a social media platform. This tries to create them and just learn a lot of information about how to do that and it scales. “

If this is done in support of a not-for-profit product that could have easily alienated customers straight away, Hale is sure to gain leverage in seeking outside funding for his next business. And like most 17-year-olds, he’s already thinking about how gene editing technology can be modified to reduce the spread and severity of chronic and fatal diseases.

“One of our closest family friends was just diagnosed with a rare blood cancer,” he says. “I hope the technology evolves so that we can develop biotechnology and nanotechnology to really help people increase cancer rates.” Quality of their life. I don’t think anyone has to go through Parkinson’s or blood cancer or anything that can change the quality of their life so that their only goal is survival. Then humanity can even thrive more than it already exists and many more people can help create and discover. “