Bone Appétit! Seabrook student a dog-treat entrepreneur
Seabrook Intermediate School eighth-grader Austin Nelson already has a few major accomplishments on his resume, namely food engineer and owner and CEO of his own small business.
It started with a plan last summer to earn enough money to upgrade his band instrument at school.
“My mom has a degree in finance and she was kind of the one who gave me the idea to start a business,” Nelson said in a Clear Creek ISD press release. “She told me she would help me raise the money to upgrade my instrument and said I should do something unique and that I was passionate about.”
Nelson came up with the idea of selling homemade dog treats to family, friends and the local community.
“I am really good with animals and have a deep love for them,” said Nelson, adding his boxer, Maya, and Boston terrier, Springer, helped inspire him.
Nelson created Bear’s Barks and Bites and began working on his treats at home with the help of his mom and grandmother. He delivers local orders directly to buyers.
“It’s cool because I get to go to all of my clients’ houses and meet their dogs and love on them,” Nelson said.
As word spread, family members out of state began placing orders. However, Nelson ran into a mold problem.
“My family member called me and said that the treats were molded by the time it got to them,” said Nelson, adding humidity and the contents of the original ingredients posed a problem.
He conducted a science fair project to test the effects of dog-safe food preservatives on the shelf life of his product.
“I wanted to solve my own problem because that’s what science fair is all about,” Nelson said. “I went online to research preservatives in varying pH levels and began adding them to my recipe. I figured out that potassium sorbate is the best pH preservative to help protect my treats during shipping.”
His project, “Preserving Peanut Butter Puppies,” earned Nelson awards at the campus, district and regional science and engineering fair levels and helped advance him to the state competition. He also was named a 2018 Top 300 competitor in the 8th annual Broadcom Masters, a national science competition for middle school students.
His “Peanut Butter Puppies” cost $8 a bag.
Nelson plans to continue research and testing new flavors and ideas.
“I would like to expand the selling of the treats, but not on the scale to where it would take me away from school,” Nelson said. “I really want to focus on my work so I can be a vet when I grow up and go to Texas A&M.”
Learn more at www.barkandbite.weebly.com.