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Carla Medina Jacobson, ’16, became very familiar with her kitchen during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

She skipped right over the sourdough-bread-baking craze and went directly into making three-tiered birthday cakes, fancy pastries, and cinnamon buns in her Chicago kitchen. She spent hours scouring the internet for the best dessert recipe reviews before purchasing hundreds of dollars’ worth of ingredients to make them. Her cabinet still contains a tub of cocoa powder that she bought nearly a year ago for a cake that required 1 teaspoon of the ingredient.

Like nearly all startup founders, Medina Jacobson had a lightbulb moment: there must be a better way.

What if she created a meal kit à la Blue Apron—but for baked goods—so bakers could receive a box filled with the correct amount of ingredients along with a fabulous, well-researched recipe?

“It would be so much fun for there to be an easier way to bake and to look up recipes,” Medina Jacobson said. She mentioned it to her best friend and fellow Booth alumna, Shelley Gupta, ’16.

BāKIT Box was born.

“We’re finding that our customers like to experiment with cooking and baking—but just like Carla and I, they need easier opportunities to do so, and they definitely have a sweet tooth.”

— Shelley Gupta, ’16

Cofounders Medina Jacobson and Gupta have spent the past year creating the Chicago-based bakery box service. So far, recipients of the box have baked everything from lemon ricotta cookies ($25) to mini empanadas with berry jam ($25) to hot cross buns ($30).

Both Booth grads were working full time as they launched BāKIT Box, Medina Jacobson at a Chicago travel tech startup and Gupta as a freelance consultant. Medina Jacobson still navigates both jobs, while Gupta works full time for BāKIT now.

Neither of them have a traditional culinary background, but Medina Jacobson studied hospitality at Cornell University before attending Booth, and Gupta was in the hospitality industry for 6 years. Their financial and business expertise are a huge plus; and their passion for food doesn’t hurt either.

Prior to creating BāKIT Box, Medina Jacobson and Gupta logged many hours dining together at Vajra Chicago (Indian and Nepalese cuisine), Momotaro Chicago (contemporary Japanese cuisine), and just about every ramen restaurant in the Windy City.

They love great food and they adore creating meals from meal kits—but they both quickly learned that having a great business idea and passion was only one piece of the puzzle. Turning that idea into a full-fledged company was another.

Bakit box kit
Kits include pre-measured ingredients  to make unique recipes, like zucchini sweet potato bread.

The first step was getting accepted into the food incubator program at the Hatchery Chicago, which connected the founders with chefs, shared kitchen space, and the certifications they needed. Then came the bigger hurdles.

“A big hurdle was trying to start a business in the midst of the pandemic; there were major delays on obtaining licensing,” said Gupta. “We were waiting on long timelines for receiving our certifications.”

In addition, they had to find the right recipes and track down the right suppliers for launch day. Since they work with perishable food, determining shelf lives and managing inventory can be a challenge, Gupta said.

BāKIT Box has been up and running since February 2021, and it launched with many Booth alumni as initial customers. Medina Jacobson and Gupta have been sticking with an à la carte model at the moment (with options costing $25–$30 per box), but they’re hoping to launch a subscription model that will send one to two boxes monthly for around $25 per box. Each box comes with the precise measurement of ingredients along with a detailed recipe. In the future, BāKIT Box would love to sell baking tools and accessories such as baking pans and spatulas along with the boxes.

Currently, the majority of their customers are women between the ages of 25 and 45 who live in Chicago or the burbs.

“We’re finding that our customers like to experiment with cooking and baking—but just like Carla and I, they need easier opportunities to do so, and they definitely have a sweet tooth,” Gupta said.

Now the plan is to get everyone else with a sweet tooth—and those who enjoy getting their creative juices flowing in the kitchen—on board.

“We are dedicated to growing our brand and business,” Medina Jacobson said.


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