Story by Jeffrey Anderson, Images courtesy of Bubble Calm
As the site of a major university, Stillwater sees a large number of entrepreneurs start their businesses here. Whether it is students in the Spears School of Business getting their start, a student having an interesting idea, or a person pursuing a dream, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs in Stillwater. Sometimes the business will collapse, other times the business will be moved to a bigger city to reach a larger market, and sometimes the business will stay in Stillwater to help the economy grow. The chewing gum producers Bubble Calm fall squarely within the third category. Founded by local residents and OSU students William Petty and Walter Bowser, Bubble Calm stands out from similar companies because its product is specifically designed to help consumers reduce anxiety, a mental condition that can be debilitating at the best of times. Using natural ingredients, Bubble Calm offers chewing gum that encourages the brain to produce Gamma-Aminobutyrate (GABA), a chemical produced in times of stress and anxiety to push the brain back into a calm state. For more information on how the gum reduces anxiety, visit their website at www.bubblecalm.net. It is important to note that the website will be updated with new information in the fall, alongside the new product release. The gum is currently produced in a USDA-approved lab on OSU campus by Mr. Petty and Mr. Bowser.
Mr. Petty and Mr. Bowser have already earned acclaim for their product through two methods. Firstly, their product’s function and convenience make it attractive to customers. Chewing gum is an item that can be carried without trouble anywhere a person needs to go. Who hasn’t carried some gum onto a plane, into a business, or to a family gathering? In addition, chewing gum is a very common item with retailers and can be found in any store that sells any food product. Secondly, the Bubble Calm team won first place in the Love’s Entrepreneur Cup, High Growth Undergraduate division. This state-wide competition gives entrepreneurs the chance to test their product in a real market and earn capital to expand their business.
I had the opportunity to speak to Co-founder William Petty about Bubble Calm as a product and company, and what plans there are for the future. Mr. Petty said that the inspiration for the product was two-fold. First, due to personal experience with anxiety, both Mr. Petty and Mr. Bowser wanted to create a product that could provide relief. Second, the product was created to meet the need for an easily accessible item that can be brought anywhere without trouble. In this case, the Bubble Calm team chose chewing gum as their product of choice. For the future, the team hopes to expand their business in Stillwater by increasing the production and availability of Bubble Calm. Production is currently done personally but will expand as the business’s resources increase. Bubble Calm is currently only available online through their website bubblecalm.net but is coming to local retailers. One example provided was the gift shop in the Stillwater Medical Center. Stillwater residents can look for the official product release in the early fall. Mr. Petty mentioned that the team hopes to reach big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart in the future.
Overall, Bubble Calm is an ambitious product. I admit that, when I first started looking into the company and its product, I was skeptical about how the team behind the product could make chewing gum reduce the effects of a mental condition like anxiety. Due to personal experience with mental illness of several varieties, I am very aware that these products sometimes do not work as well as they advertise. With my research and discussions with the Bubble Calm team, I’ve been made a believer. Bubble Calm is coming to Stillwater with a new design and flavors in early fall. It will be available in select locations, including the Stillwater Medical Center, and online. I’m looking forward to seeing this business grow over the next few years.