Whipnotic Creators Express Their Ideas Behind their Entrepreneurial Success

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Tracy Luckow ’99 and her sister Lori Gitomer ’01 embarked on a grander venture when they conceived Whipnotic, a range of swirled, flavored whipped creams featuring innovative button-touch nozzles.

Introduced in 2022, Whipnotic has successfully sold 150,000 cans across 1,000+ stores in 28 states, despite navigating challenges like the pandemic, food price inflation, and lactose aversion. Luckow will share the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial journey on April 12 at Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s Celebration, an annual two-day conference uniting students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members.

The event will feature engaging panels, fireside chats with company founders, eLab Demo Day, recognition of Student Business of the Year, the BenDaniel Venture Challenge, and the crowning of the 2024 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Zach Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell, aims to inspire attendees, stating, “We want all the students and Celebration participants to come away super energized about entrepreneurship and about who they met and the connections they made.” Reflecting on Luckow’s journey, Shulman adds, “When Tracy was a student here, she wasn’t focused on entrepreneurship. She got the start-up bug later in life, which isn’t unusual. We want to show students that entrepreneurship comes in different flavors, and is something they can do at any point in their lives.”

For Luckow and Gitomer, disrupting an unchallenged market was pivotal. Reddi-wip had long dominated the canned whipped cream sector, with few competitors. Luckow explains, “Nothing had been challenged and there had been no innovation in the category.” Inspired by baristas infusing flavors into coffees and pancake restaurants enhancing whipped cream with syrups, they envisioned injecting excitement into grocery store aisles.

Their brainstorming yielded enticing flavors like vanilla salted caramel, fudge brownie, strawberry swirl, and peach mango, each adorned with vibrant bands accentuating the creamy clouds. Collaborating with the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture (COE), they perfected the button-touch nozzle, sourced a manufacturer for the filling device, and ensured compliance with food safety regulations.

Luckow acknowledges Cornell’s support, stating, “Our first ‘phone a friend’ was Cornell. Faculty were helpful in guiding us through the process and in how to protect our idea – they recommended we immediately reach out to patent lawyers.” Armed with a Ph.D. in food science, Luckow could have pursued a traditional career as a corporate product developer, but her curiosity propelled her towards entrepreneurship. She intends to share her unconventional career trajectory and background with entrepreneurship students during her April 12 presentation, recognizing that many of them are akin to her 25 years ago. She reflects, “I remember what it’s like to be sitting in that classroom and listening to people.”

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