Grace Mittl and Eli Bank stand back to backagainst a yellow background and smile while looking up and back at one another.


How it started/how it’s going

Grace Mittl, ’22, and Eli Bank, ’22, put off more traditional career paths to chase a start-up dream. As students, they led the creation of Absurd Snacks during the Bench Top Innovations course. (Read more about it in the sidebar of this story.) Two years later, they’re building the business with savvy, hard work, and ongoing support from the university.

How it started (2021–22)

  • … in Bench Top Innovations, a course in which students launch a start-up from concept to market.
  • … in small groups developing concepts and recipes for snack products in eight test kitchen sessions.
  • … with Mittl’s group winning the fall semester Great Bake-off with a concept for a trail mix free of common allergens.
  • … with the class coming together spring semester as one product team and Mittl being named CEO and Bank COO.
  • … with the launch of Absurd Snacks in spring 2022, fulfilling the course requirement.
  • … with Mittl and Bank choosing to continue to build the company post-graduation.

How it’s going (2024)

  • Absurd Snacks recently earned placement in Whole Foods throughout the mid-Atlantic region, jumping from 23 to 55 stores.
  • They’re also in mid-Atlantic independent cafés and markets.
  • They completed an agreement with a food service provider to supply snacks to corporate offices (hint, hint, alumni in the mid-Atlantic).
  • Mittl and Bank are Start-up in Residence at the Robins School of Business. The role comes with opportunities to mentor current students, speak in classes, and contribute to building entrepreneurialism on campus. They also hire UR students as interns, judge pitch competitions, and more.
Grace Mittl and Eli Bank stand outside a Whole foods market, holding bags of thier product, Absurd snacks. They are smiling with open mouths and wearing sunglasses.
“The university is doing a tremendous job of building out its entrepreneurship pillar within the business school and ... across campus. We have a strong network of alumni that wants to fund student-founded businesses.”
— Grace Mittl, ’22