It took Lauren Gunderman two experiences–interning at SXSW and taking a startup course at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications–to make her realize that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Instead of going the typical route and working at an advertising firm after graduation, she decided to take a risk and start a company: Joy’s Jell-Shots.

7901-790071_th1Her plan is for Joy’s Jell-Shots to sell pre-packaged jello shots to consumers in liquor stores. Gunderman is teaming up with her mom, Lilly, to start the company. Lauren worked out of the Student Sandbox this summer for six weeks on the startup business.

“I had been talking to my mom for a while about turning her hobby of making jello shots into an actual business,” said Gunderman, who graduated with a degree in advertising from Newhouse at Syracuse University in three years. “Her friends would invite her to these parties, and they would expect her to bring 100 jello shots. So I was thinking, ‘What do friend groups do that don’t have my mom to make them?’,” said Lauren.

Taking it to New Levels


Gunderman’s work space at the Student Sandbox. Photo provided by Lauren Gunderman

Lily has been making jello shots for years, but Gunderman convinced her mom to take their creation outside of their personal and social lives.

As of now, the jello shot market has very few competitors and Gunderman sees this as an enormous opportunity.

“There are no pre-packaged jello shots that are offered in New York State at all. There is one brand on the West Coast, but the market is so unsaturated. And even though I am not the first person to do it, the connections that I have just all aligned [indicating] that I should start this,” Lauren said. Gunderman who also explained that her family has a second fridge at home dedicated solely to jello shots.

sandbox jell shots

The Jell-Shots booth at Demo Day at the Student Sandbox was voted best showcase booth. Lauren Gunderman with John Liddy, Sandbox director.)

The Market: Millenials, College Students and Gen-X

Joy’s Jell-Shots has a large target market: millenials, college students and baby boomers. Almost all of these groups love jello shots, but they find it’s too much of a time commitment to make them.

“College kids don’t have time to make them, and if they are running to a…party…. if they see that a pack of 24 jello shots, they are going to pick them up if the cost is under 20 bucks” said Gunderman. She estimates that her product’s price point will be $17.99.

Not only will college students and millenials take advantage of pre-made jello shots, but Gunderman is also targeting young professionals, 30-year olds, and even baby boomers, she said. “My mom is the older baby boomer from Gen-X and they are surprisingly in love with jello shots,” said Lauren.

Manuvering Around Challenges 


Lauren Gunderman, founder of Joy’s Jello-Shots. She graduated from SU in 2015 with a degree in advertising.

The company is now in the process of getting licenses. Since they aren’t distilling the alcohol in the shots, some of the licensing issues are questions for attorneys.

In addition to getting licenses, Gunderman said the team will have to complete a few other processes before the product can be sold on shelves.

“It’s also has to be FDA approved,” said Gunderman. “There are all of these different hoops that you have to jump through just because it’s an alcohol product and it’s a food product.”

“I’m not sure which flavors we will choose,” said Gunderman, now from her home in Poland, NY. “But you have to register each individual flavor that you have because it’s a different recipe. We will probably do 4-6 flavors in the pack,” she noted.

To stay up-to-date regarding the progress of this Sandbox startup cmpany, you can follow Joy’s Jell-Shots, and sandboxer Gunderman, on twitter.