In business, it’s important to know your target market intimately, and Carmyn Robey certainly does. By age 14, she weighed 260 pounds and was a size 24. “One day I made up my mind that I was tired of being depressed,â€ says Robey. “I started researching information about nutrition. Over two years, with diet and exercise, I lost 140 pounds and dropped from a size 24 to an 8.â€
Seeking to help other women in similar straits, she founded Easy As Pie, a Hyattsville, Maryland—based company that offers custom meal plans, individual cooking lessons, pantry walkthroughs and grocery assessments to help women achieve optimal nutrition and lead an overall healthier lifestyle.
Robey, 22, is now a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C.; she graduates next May with a degree in computer science and business administration. (For her senior project, she’s developing an Easy As Pie mobile app for Android.) She’s also very much the public face of her business–not only because of her personal story, but also because she is the business right now. Three friends assist her with cooking meals and transportation logistics for client visits; looking ahead, she’d like to bring on a nutritionist to “gain some additional guiding principles,â€ as she puts it.
Those goals received a boost earlier this year, when Robey was selected to be part of the funding-and-mentoring program of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs–the nonprofit foundation that offers $10,000 in startup grants and eight weeks of intensive business mentoring–after a virtuoso performance during a business-pitch event on Howard’s campus.
The funding she’s receiving from 100UE will help Robey bolster Easy As Pie’s digital presence; in addition to the app she’s developing, the company’s website is set to launch within weeks. Her ultimate goal isn’t just a successful company–it’s to help countless women like her who struggle with their health and appearance and need some professional assistance to turn things around. “I know what it feels like to give up on yourself, and I’m proof it’s possible to get past those difficult times,â€ Robey says. “I changed my life, and I want to help others do the same.â€