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How This Pediatrician-Turned-Entrepreneur Transformed a Health Policy into a Consumer Product for Kids

The founder and CEO of Ahimsa shares her journey to entrepreneurship and her advice for other physicians who have a business idea.

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When a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics came out, focusing on the harmful chemicals found in plastics, Dr. Manasa Mantravadi's cell phone started buzzing. What started as a text-message chain between pediatrician moms discussing this new policy soon became a colorful stainless steel line of tableware for kids. The policy statement said, "Avoid plastic because it harms your child's health and instead use glass or stainless steel."

"So, while everyone was frantically trying to figure out what their next move as a mom was going to be, I kind of quietly sent a picture of my own stainless steel dishes from India that my own mother made me use for my children, because she had, years ago when my children were first born, had this gut feeling that the chemicals inside that plastic were leaching into the food her grandkids were eating," Dr. Mantravadi told Jessica Abo.

So the pediatrician and mom of three got to work. "One day I saw in the operating room these little implants and these medical instruments in various colors. And I thought, 'Well, I know that that metal rod is going inside that patient, but it's colorful. How in the world are they getting color onto that metal?' And so I thought to myself, "If it's safe enough to go into the human body, certainly it must be safe enough to eat off of."

She made calls around the country looking for a company that would create some of that coloring for medical instruments onto some dishes. After a long search, she found the partner she was looking for and Ahimsa was born.

Today, Dr. Mantravadi's line of products can be found online at ahimsahome.com and select retailers. She's just introduced a new cafeteria line for schools in her mission to replace plastic - wherever children dine.

When asked about her advice for other entrepreneurs looking to take their business idea to market, Dr. Mantravaid said, "Take the leap. I think what drives us as physicians is truly our patients and not profits. And I think a lot of times when we think about entrepreneurship, as physicians we think, "I don't really know anything about business.' But if you take out the word business and just say, "I am able to help improve the life of people in some way, shape or form,' that could be with a safe, sustainable, stainless steel dish for a child, or it could be helping them through pneumonia while they're in the hospital. It doesn't have to be either-or. So that's what I would say is, "You have what it takes, the ideas that you will come up with can be really impactful for the world, and you can still really do good for the world and be profitable while doing it.'"

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