Soyful™: a new product created through the Student Soybean Innovation Competition 

Written by Kendell Combs

Have an interest in entrepreneurship and innovation? Two AGEC students with a passion for both took up the opportunity to join a team to compete in the Student Soybean Innovation Competition. It is an event sponsored by Indiana Soybean Alliance that encourages Purdue University students to develop novel applications for soybeans that meet a market need. This year, Ross Kindig (Junior; Agribusiness Management; Brook, IN) and Dane Chapman (Junior; Agribusiness Marketing; Brookston, IN) joined as team with two other College of Agriculture students, Neil Zhao and Pablo Vega. 

“I chose to participate because this competition offers a challenge. I knew that I wanted to be involved with something that would allow me to wear many hats and learn to do many different things in the product creation process,” Ross said. 

Their product was Soyful™, a soy-based nanoemulsion that is transparent and can be therefore be added to any of your favorite food and beverage products without changing the color. It provides polyunsaturated fatty acids, which 93% American adults do not receive enough of in their daily diet, and flavor through the form of essential oils. They were able to bring the soybean oil droplets down to the nanometer scale, which allows the oil to mix with water.  The name “Soyful” was chosen because the product was healthful, flavorful, and invisible, and the team selected this product after analyzing the competitive landscape and identifying a gap in the market in which we believe our product can fit.
Through this experience, both Ross and Dane have learned that product development requires focused work and dedication. Ross emphasizes that product creators must know everything about their product, from how it is made to how it should be used, and they also must have the skills to help their audience understand the product as well. 

Here are Dane’s three main takeaways from the competition: 

  1. Analyzing the marketplace and understanding where your product fits is important to discover early on.
  2. Always think with the consumer in mind: How is this product going to help? Will they spend money on this? These questions are very important to not only think about but to act upon and ask potential customers. 
  3. Your team is everything. I am so thankful for our team because we all understood and capitalized on our strengths so we could create a final product. 
“Working with a fantastic team has been the best part of this competition. We all have different majors and areas of expertise, which comes together nicely when we all bring our skills to the table. Bringing a product from an idea and turning it into a prototype would not have been possible without everyone's contribution,” Ross said. 

Dane reflect that the entire competition, from analyzing the market to working in a food science lab for the first time, was a wonderful experience that will be useful long-term. They both would like to thank Purdue University, the Purdue Foundry, and the Indiana Soybean Alliance for developing a successful event with a 25-year proven track record. To find out more about the Student Soybean Innovation Competition, you can visit this site: 

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