Hub Spotlight: HappyWaffle
Domenique Mastronardi is a 4th year engineer student at UofG and the founder of her own company, HappyWaffle! HappyWaffles are healthy, allergen-friendly frozen toaster waffles that taste delicious. The waffles were created as a solution to Domenique's real world problem. Domenique needed a healthy, delicious and portable treat for her early mornings and late nights on campus. So she took matters into her own hands and created a snack that provides a balance of protein, fats and fibre. HappyWaffles are currently offered in four delicious flavours: buttermilk, peanut butter chocolate, maple cinnamon and pumpkin spice and each flavour is high in nutritional value, helps with weight management and allows for sustained energy levels. Find out how Domenique went from taking care of her own snack food to taking charge of her own business in our exclusive interview.
How did you come up with Happy Waffle?
I was lucky enough to have a school project that encouraged me to innovate in the sustainability and nutrition space. I absolutely love to bake, and I’ve enjoyed coming up with healthy versions of treats for as long as I can remember. As an engineering student who was basically living on campus, I wanted to create something that would help simplify my life. Enter HappyWaffle. The packable breakfast or snack of my dreams.
What motivated you to take the next step and apply to the Hub?
I spoke with Tyler, the mentor at the Hub, about refining my pitch when I was entering my product into Project Soy Plus at the university. The confidence he instilled in me was unmatched, and I knew that I wanted to continue to work with him.
What do you hope to get out of the Hub?
The community at the Hub has proven to be super powerful. I hope to maintain the friendships and network that I have begun to establish at the Hub. It’s super rewarding to help others excel, and it feels good to be able to talk through my ideas with people I can trust.
Do you have any advice for someone with a business idea in mind, but are not sure what to do next?
Have some confidence and go for it! It doesn’t have to be perfect. No matter how messy or preliminary it is, just roll with it. Get iterating. Get others’ opinions. Fail. Try again. This is definitely the advice that helped turn my idea into something tangible. As a perfectionist, I kept holding off until my waffles, my logo, and my website were absolutely perfect (which they will never be). When I decided to let go of the little details and being scared of failing, I started succeeding!
Housed within the John F. Wood Centre for Business & Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), the Hub is a business incubator designed to support early-stage business ideas with high-potential, but unproven business models. The goal of the Hub is to provide University of Guelph students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni the opportunity to build a successful business enterprise in a supportive learning environment.
The Hub has a tiered program that ensures a good mix of start-up companies at varying stages of growth. “Hub Start” is for ventures still getting their idea off the ground. These ventures typically have a great team and a great idea, but still have not demonstrated product-market fit with traction. “Hub Build” is for ventures with traction looking to refine their business model and/or scale.