University of Southern California

Somersaults and Turning the World Around
March 8, 2013 • by Michael Uytengsu

My father grew up in the Philippines, surviving World War II Japanese occupation and internment. Through this adversity, he discovered the importance of food, and after graduating with a degree in engineering, started a food business. I spent my weekends with him in factories and grocery stores.

I went to the USC Marshall School of Business, and worked in investment banking before joining the family business. Then, in the late 1990's, my father turned the reins over to me. When he passed away three years ago, I looked at my life. We had been in the snack business for 30 years selling potato chips, cookies and crackers, then most recently, pretzels. I was flying 150,000 miles a year. Along the way I became acutely aware of America's growing health crisis. We have the most overweight population and youngest mortality rate of all developed nations.

After running left brain companies with purely left brain goals, I wanted to do something from scratch that was creative and purpose-driven, and part of the solution to the health crisis. Could I create a brand with a purpose? Could I create something that might help turn the world around? I wanted to give people something to help them get out there and enjoy life. Run, jump, smell fresh air--do a somersault.

Because I went to Marshall, I was imprinted with an entrepreneurial gene. The ever-present culture of ideation at USC inspires everyone it touches to be innovative. So, in that Trojan spirit, I started the Somersault Snack Company. A somersault turns the world around. The Somersault Snack Company is on a crusade for a healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle - harnessing the power of seeds. And from the get-go, I'm donating some of our stock to USC and engaging with Marshall in a real life partnership with the students and the university to help us succeed in our crusade!

What if every alum with a business gave 1% of their company to Marshall in its early stages and engaged with the school? Students could witness real life mistakes and successes, and learn as entrepreneurs learned; the business would profit from the students' engagement and Marshall's expertise–it might just turn the world around.

Think about it. I know Dean Jim Ellis and the USC Marshall School of Business would love your support, either small or let's all make a difference.

Fight On!
Michael Uytengsu, BS Finance '90
Founder and CEO of the Somersault Snack Company