Incubator Kitchen Spotlight: Spera Foods

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Downtown Market

As a junior at Hope College in Holland, Mich. in 2015, the thought of owning a food business never crossed Hannah Raycraft’s mind. Fast forward a few years to 2017, she launched her first product for her business Spera Foods.

“I never thought that I would be a business owner but I’ve always been entrepreneurial, said Raycraft. “My dad actually spotted it out to me during high school because I used to make and sell headbands to fund mission trips.”

So how did Raycraft go from exercise science student to food entrepreneur? It started when she studied abroad in Germany during her junior year of college. She visited family and tried different products made with the superfood Tiger Nut.

The Tiger Nut is tricky because it’s actually not a nut! This root vegetable is rich in probiotic fiber, in magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamins C & E, plus it is low fat and free of soy, dairy and gluten. This special root vegetable was so impressive and delicious that Raycraft brought boxes of Tiger Nut porridge back home for her family. To her dismay, once the supply was gone, she had difficulty finding the porridge or any other Tiger Nut products in the United States.

“I was surprised that I couldn’t find the porridge at all and the Tiger Nut products I could find were very expensive,” said Raycraft.

Entering her senior year, Raycraft opted to take an entrepreneur class to complete her degree. It was in this class where she started to get serious about providing the community with a product she loved. Raycraft then applied and was awarded a spot in Hope Entrepreneurial Institute, a competitive program at Hope College where student entrepreneurs are offered resources, mentors and even funding for their business ideas.

In March 2017, Raycraft launched Spera Foods. Spera Foods products include Tiger Nut granola, flour and waffle mix.  Spera Foods saw great success over its first summer at farmer’s markets in Grand Haven, Grand Rapids and Holland, selling more than 1,000 items.

You can still catch Raycraft at farmer’s markets but she also now sells her products online at sperafoods.com and coming soon on Amazon.

Raycraft now utilizes the Downtown Market Incubator Kitchen to produce her Tiger Nut products. She learned about our facility through Hope College.

“It’s nice working in a space where there is a good sense of community and everyone is friendly,” said Raycraft. “I also like that there are opportunities to meet buyers who want to sell or use my product.”

As for the future of Spera, Raycraft is looking forward to bringing seasonal flavors of waffle/pancake mix and granola to the West Michigan community and beyond. She also wishes to create other easy-to-use mixes such as muffin mix and cake mix, all made from the nourishing Tiger Nut. Raycraft said she hopes to explore Tiger Nut milk options as well.

“I’ve had so many people support me and thank me for Spera products. For people with celiac disease, nut allergies and other dietary issues, the Tiger Nut is life-changing,” said Raycraft. “I love helping people and seeing my hard work pay off.”

Visit the Spera Foods website to purchase Tiger Nut products and to learn more about this nutrient-rich root vegetable.