Booth alum Katlin Smith’s (M.B.A. ’15) food brand is now the most valuable female-led start-up in Illinois, according to PitchBook’s 2019 rankings. The company, Simple Mills, sells nutrient-rich, gluten-free baking mixes and snacks such as cookies, crackers, and flour bars made from natural ingredients.
Founded in 2012, Simple Mills was recently valued at over $180 million. In 2014, the company tied for first place with RoomVa, a hotel reservation company, in UChicago’s New Venture Challenge.
Smith conceived of Simple Mills after suffering from medical issues as a Deloitte management consultant. Noticing the lack of clean, unprocessed ingredients in baked goods, Smith experimented with making her own in the “small kitchen of a basement apartment…and an oven that dated back to the ’80s,” she told The Everygirl in 2017.
While working full-time, Smith experimented for hours on the weekends with over 90 trials of recipes she typed up on Microsoft Excel before finishing her first product, which she sold on Amazon. Smith proceeded to pitch the product to her local grocery stores.
Currently, Simple Mills products are sold in over 13,000 stores nationwide and can be found in the Whole Foods in Hyde Park.