By Brendan O’Hallarn
Sophomore management major Janay Brown is an anomaly. Not only did she earn a great grade with her senior high school project in Haymarket, Virginia in 2015 to create bacon-themed sweets, Brown turned the idea into an Internet-based bacon business, and brought it with her to Old Dominion where she developed it further at the Strome Entrepreneurial Center.
Known as Full Belly Delights LLC, the business has taken off. Her bacon-filled treats are produced and shipped from a facility in Virginia Beach.
“It’s going great, actually,” Brown said. “It’s been hard work, but really fun to watch this business grow.”
At the recent Student Entrepreneurial Expo, Brown and her mother served flavored bacon truffle samples from two long tables at one end of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center. Chatting engagingly with customers who came by, the mother-and-daughter sales team spoke passionately about favorite flavors.
Full Belly Delights’ bacon truffle delights, bacon pops and flavored bacon come in flavors like tiramisu, sriracha and caramel, and many others.
“I’ve always had a passion for the culinary arts and enjoy cooking, eating and trying new foods,” Brown said.
A big focus of Brown’s business is on presentation of the bacon-flavored sweets. Each type of flavored bacon (except deep-fried) is marinated in a secret homemade recipe before being prepared.
“Our mission to our customers is to strive for top quality in presentation and in taste as we handcraft each order that comes to us,” Brown said.
The business is getting attention on and off campus. Full Belly Delights has been featured in local media outlets. This month, Brown was awarded one of three $3,000 prizes during the first annual “Lion’s Lair” entrepreneurial competition, hosted by the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, Old Dominion University Alumni Association and Entsminger Entrepreneurial Fellows.
Brown said working with fellow student entrepreneurs through the Strome Center has been a tremendous boost. She said the ability to trade ideas, share frustrations and support each other has helped each entrepreneur in a quest to create their own career.
That was the impetus behind the 2014 gift of $11 million from alumnus Mark Strome ‘78, which was used to create the Strome Entrepreneurial Center.
The Strome Center exists to support University-affiliated entrepreneurs at every stage of the business lifecycle. There, students, faculty, staff and alumni receive coaching and build business connections.
For the past three years, six faculty members have also been selected annually for the Entsminger Fellows program. They are charged with bringing entrepreneurship into the University’s academic colleges.
Old Dominion also maintains a decades-long effort to be a resource for the local business community through support initiatives such as the Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI), which evolved from the University’s Business Gateway in 2014. The CEI seeks to foster local economic growth through a series of interconnected programs created to help local entrepreneurs, such as the Technology Applications Center, Women’s Business Center and Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center.
In July, the ODU Innovation Center – Norfolk, a partnership between CEI and the City of Norfolk, was launched. It provides area entrepreneurs with collaboration space and a comprehensive program of services designed to grow a community of scalable entrepreneurial businesses within Norfolk’s Innovation Corridor.