John Holahan, Inventor and Founder
Bachelor in Engineering, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN
Master of Business Administration, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
John Holahan graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 1992. After graduation he worked for Kelco - a thickener company owned by Merck and eventually sold to Monsanto - where he became an expert in several industrial thickeners. During his time at Kelco, a co-worker's mother was in hospice care and refused to drink anything made with a starch thickener. It was there that his co-worker was introduced to powdered xanthan gum - a common additive used to thicken and stabilize foods. Shortly after, her mother began to drink again; ultimately she believed using xanthan gum gave her more time with her mother. If you would like to read the detailed story of our founding and startup, you can read it on John's personal blog.
Soon after, John began an MBA program at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. For a class project and inspired by his co-worker's story, John decided to explore creating a liquid xanthan gum thickener that would make better tasting beverages and mixing less complicated. He developed a business plan, designed a prototype, and sought input from local healthcare facilities. His prototype generated so much excitement that upon graduation in 2001, he founded SimplyThick, LLC.
Over the years, John has presented to various long-term care trade organizations on the topics of International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI), dysphagia, thickeners, and rheology. He has published articles and trained over 3,000 professionals on IDDSI framework including methods in testing food at bedside for various IDDSI diet levels. He is an inaugural member of the IDDSI Hall of Appreciation, a member of the Canadian IDDSI Reference Group (CIRG), and a founder of the US & Territories IDDSI Reference Group (USTIRG). He continues to work as the President of SimplyThick and pursues his passion of improving the lives of those living with dysphagia.
In John's free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, fostering dogs (14 to be exact), and hosting exchange students. John is also an avid St. Louis Blues fan and loves to support his city by attending every game possible. He even attended every home and away game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals - 4 in Boston, 3 in St. Louis.
"We always remember that our goal is to make lives better. We've never been satisfied with ourselves, and we know there has always been room for improvement. Over time, we have reduced preservatives, improved the taste profile, enhanced mixing ease, and re-invented our packaging to embrace IDDSI."
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