Fourth-year student Catlin Tran is doing what all good entrepreneurs do. She’s combining her love of food, a family background in pharmaceuticals and her business economics major to start a new business.
She founded Nutripair, a health and wellness startup designed to pair individuals with personalized nutrition solutions to help them make informed decisions for tackling chronic illnesses through dietary means.
Being raised in a three-generation Vietnamese household has shaped and motivated Tran to think outside of the box. She is the first in her family to pursue a non-medical career, and she attributes many of her choices in life to her family. She came up with the idea for her start up after looking at her own family’s health history, including a running genetic line of diabetes, and trying to change things about her own diet.
“In a traditional Vietnamese household, we eat a lot of starches and a lot of processed foods, so it’s motivated me to think of creative ways to find more nutritional options,” she says.
Tran is a 2022 recipient of the UCI Beall Applied Innovation Creativity & Entrepreneurship Scholarship – a collaboration between Applied Innovation and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, which awards up to $3,000 to any UCI student with an inventive solution to a community need or problem. The funding is helping her further develop Nutripair. Tran wants to partner with small restaurants and businesses to help them expand their demographics through personalized nutrition for their customers.
She decided to pursue business economics for the leadership aspect and to tangibly impact her community, but she also noted the disparity between men and women in business as a large motivator for her success.
“Being an Asian-American woman adds a whole other level of complexity to the barriers I’ve now begun to overcome,” Tran says.
Tran particularly sees a lack of Asian-American women in the business world. She wishes to become the role-model she wished to have in her own career, but she has had no lack of strong female role models in her life. After her parents divorced while she was still a baby, Tran grew up in a predominantly female household. She looks up to her mom, who took up both parental figures as she grew up.
“She ran the household, she bought a house when she didn’t think she could buy one, she takes care of my entire family, and when anyone goes through something, they call my mom,” says the Huntington Beach native. “She puts so much on her plate, and she does it so seamlessly, but she’s still an amazing mom. She is the role model that I aspire to be.”
Tran aspires to be a role model for others and has taken the first step toward that through her role as a student executive assistant at the UCI ANTrepreneur Center, which is a center intended to support aspiring entrepreneurs within the student body with resources, events and other opportunities.
“I think the whole point of me going through my own journey is to help other students and other founders avoid the things I did that weren’t so efficient,” she says. “The ANTreprenuer center is really the home for innovation and can really help other folks figure out where to go.”
Last year, Nutripair, took home the second-place prize in the Butterworth Product Development Competition. And members of the Nutripair team have taken part in the ANTrepreneur Center’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Internship.
“The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Internship and one-on-one consulting greatly impacted Nutripair’s progress,” said Tran. “The cohort fostered a collaborative environment of startup founders who were all willing to help and provide wonderful insights.”
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