HappyBaby/Nurture Inc. (www.happybabyfood.com), a three-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., startup focusing on organic meals for babies and toddlers, was one of three finalists in the Shine A Light program, a national contest asking consumers to vote for “the small business story that most inspires them based on innovation, community spirit and customer service.”
NBC Universal and American Express staged the online popularity contest during the summer and announced results in October. The winner was Sacred Wind Communications, a for-profit telecommunications company with 40 employees with a non-profit educational arm, serving the Navajo people in New Mexico.
NBC and American Express asked the public in August to nominate small businesses with inspiring stories. Nominations were whittled to three finalists by talk show host and entrepreneur Ellen DeGeneres, fashion designer and entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg and MSNBC’s small business expert and host J.J. Ramberg. HappyBaby and Sacred Wind were joined by Beacon Paint & Hardware, on the same New York City street for 109 years.
Each of the finalists won a $3,000 American Express Gift Card, and the winner received $100,000 in grant and marketing support from American Express.
HappyBaby was launched on Mother’s Day 2006 by Shazi Visram, who “listened with a compassionate ear to a friend’s anguish about the difficulty of finding the time to make her own baby food.” Visram founded the company based on healthy baby food as well as support for sustainable agriculture and charitable giving. She started with five products in five small New York City stores, but distribution has grown to 5,000 stores.