I love getting to know female founders and got the chance to chat with Shandee Chernow. Her story resonates with the vibe of when purpose, community and business come together to benefit others. -Violette

What was your inspiration in launching CertiStar?

I started CertiStar because I personally suffer from food allergies and thought there must be a better way than how the food service is currently handling this topic. It's stressful to go out to eat, plus it takes away from the enjoyment of the experience. Even the places that are really good at tackling food allergy customers are still relying on the staff or kitchen’s knowledge, which takes a lot of time and is prone to human error. So, I developed CertiStar to improve that process and save everyone involved some time and stress. 

I love how you combined passion and purpose in your business. Was this your first business launch? If not, what makes this business different from the others? 

This is my first business launch. I love that it takes a passion I have and something that’s so important to me, while aiming to improve that as well for others. It’s definitely different from working for other companies in that you really have to be able to wear any hat on any given day, and literally everything ultimately does falls on you. I definitely under-estimated how many things were included in ‘everything’ for sure.

What did you do when you faced challenges in creating this platform? 

You just have to keep going. Every single day throws its own set of challenges at you and they are all pretty unpredictable. You think you’re going to be doing one set of things on a given day that you've planned for and then that day ends up being completely different from what was planned. I've gotten so use to it...you have to be incredibly flexible and firm, all at the same time.

What would you say to the FEM out there that is reading your story and is also passionate about launching a tech platform?

Keep remembering WHY you started it, and it isn’t enough to just have a good or great idea. You have to really believe in the idea so much in order to be able to clearly and continually explain and defend it. You hear that with start ups, it’s all about the Founder. If your passion and belief doesn’t shine through to potential customers, your audience, the industry, the idea certainly won’t either.

May houses Food Allergy Awareness Week - what are some misconceptions about people who have food allergies that are important for others to be aware of? 

There are SO many to go through. The biggest is that people are making up food allergies just to avoid foods they don’t like to eat. This one personally drives me crazy – as do the people who actually do this. Please give people the benefit of the doubt when they tell you allergic! Also, that any unusual allergies (pork is mine!) "must be fake" because they aren’t "common." It is really hard to avoid allergens people aren’t expecting – and it isn’t fun!

Any final words of inspiration for those FEMS that are going for their dreams? 

Don’t let anyone else’s idea of what you should do derail you ever. Always ask for help, but balance the advice with trusting your gut. I’m definitely not telling you not to listen, you should always listen to help and advice, especially when it’s critical. I’m telling you to take it into consideration, let it ruminate, and then trust yourself to make the decision that feels best to you. 

Where can our readers learn more about your company? 

Any social media channel (@certistar) or our website at certistar.com. Also, you can always give us a call at 833-eat-safe.

CertiStar™, Inc. is on a mission to protect and improve the safety and dining experiences of men, women or children vulnerable to food allergies and intolerances. The company's patent-pending MenuStar™ restaurant software allows you to identify food allergy threats for your customers with just one 3-second search. All your recipes and food allergy information in one place. Our MenuStar™ restaurant software allows you to create and upload recipes, educate and empower your staff and store your allergen and nutritional information in one, easy to use platform. That's menu innovation that saves lives. You can learn more at www.certiStar.com