A group of high school students from Rosh Ha’ayin won second place this week in the international annual Junior Achievement – Young Entrepreneurs Europe contest, sponsored by Junior Achievement Worldwide.
The students took runner-up spot at the Bucharest contest for the design, marketing, and sales of the “Flour n’Roll” — a flour shaker used by bakers — amateurs and pros — to keep their dough smooth. The product, which has been profiled on a number of cooking web sites, is being sold by the group for NIS 80 (approx. $20).
Already a success before nabbing the runner-up position from among 200 competing ideas and projects from 34 countries, the Flour n’Roll (Called Batzekalo in Hebrew, a play on the words “flour” and “easy”) came in second to a team from Ireland that developed a method for teaching sign language. The Flour n’Roll was designed, manufactured, and marketed by a group of 14 ninth grade students attending high school in Rosh Ha’ayin, who formed a company called “MamaBaker” to market the product.
So what does Flour n’Roll do? “It is designed to make baking easier by allowing bakers to spread flour evenly when they are working with dough,” said Oren Chen, one of the members of the team.
The device is made out of aluminum, and has an opening on one end that can be unscrewed, to fill with flour. The other end has holes, like those of a sugar shaker, so bakers can shake out the flour onto dough they are working with, in case they put too much water into the mixture. “With the Flour n’Roll, bakers don’t have to go across the room and find the flour bag, bring it to their work area, with their hands still moist from kneading the dough.”
With the Flour n’Roll, she said, you save effort as well as flour, and get better results from baking – you can easily control the amount you add, so you don’t end up with excess flour in some parts of the dough, which will remain unmixed and ruin the taste of your final product.
Since it’s cylindrical, the Flour n’Roll also doubles as a rolling-pin. And the fact that the device is made out of aluminum — it is manufactured in Israel, by a group called Chimes Israel, which provides jobs and services to special needs adults — means that it can be refrigerated, so that the flour is easier to handle when poured onto room temperature dough.
The holes on the Flour n’Roll are optimized for pouring flour, unlike the holes on salt and sugar shakers. “We did everything ourselves,” Chen said, “from coming up with the ideas to developing the design, contacting manufacturers, and raising capital for production and sales.”
In an interview, MamaBaker CEO Lior Tzabari said that the group had tried different ideas before coming up with Flour n’Roll – and that this one made the most sense because it was something people needed and could use to make their lives easier, a principle stressed in the training they received as part of the Israeli Young Entrepreneurs association.
The Flour n’Roll was designed based on the needs of bakers – with the baker, in this case, being the grandmother of MamaBaker’s marketing director Shahar Tasa.
One day, Tasa said, she came upon her grandmother rolling the dough for “kubana,” a Yemenite specialty bread, but the flour was coming out too sticky. “She asked me to bring her the bag of flour and spread some on her dough mixture. She didn’t want to pick up the bag herself because her hands were sticky with dough, and she didn’t want to get any on the bag,” said Tasa. “I told the other members of our group about my experience.” The dough was cast. “We decided that the Flour n’Roll was the best idea for us to pursue.”
Just getting to the finals was challenge enough. The Israeli contest was sponsored by Israeli Young Entrepreneurs, which “helps young entrepreneurs learn from the experience of members of the business community, letting them use their creativity to develop an innovative idea,” said Ella Galil, chairperson of the Israeli group, which receives funding from numerous sources, notably Bank Leumi..
Some 250 groups from around the country participated in regional competitions, with the winners competing against each other in June for the honor of representing Israel in the JA-YE contest, held this year in Bucharest, where MamaBaker proved that it’s a young company on the rise.