Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ellie O'Brien, CEO and co-founder of Square Root, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Square Root is a gluten and grain-free snack company specializing in nut-based granola, which we call Nutnola, and mixed nut butters! We are a start-up, just my husband Pat and I, and we are passionate about providing great-tasting snacks to our customers. While we originally created our products for those individuals suffering from Celiac disease, our customers are primarily females who have an interest in health and wellness and are not willing to compromise flavor!

Tell us about yourself

Square Root started when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. After my diagnosis, I was frustrated by the feeling of constantly being left out. Food was always something that brought people together, but my Celiac diagnosis changed that. As an engineer, I like to solve problems, and I knew that if I was feeling this way, others were too. So Pat and I set out to create food that brings all people together, no matter what the dietary restriction.

We created something that can be shared around the table at a big family dinner, after a great hike, or between a parent and their child without the worry of someone being excluded. Being able to create products that taste great and that anyone can enjoy is what motivates me each day in this business.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Launching Square Root and scaling it to where we are today has been the biggest accomplishment! We have launched in retailers throughout the Midwest and have done so with a very small team. I am beyond proud of where we are today and very excited about our growth for 2022.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For me, this changes pretty frequently. But, learning how to manage your time and resources and use them effectively and efficiently is an ever-changing goal that I am striving for. There is always something on the to-do list, so learning how to set boundaries and protect your mental health is so important otherwise, burnout is inevitable.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Believe in yourself and what you are selling.
  2. Ask questions and surround yourself with people who have expertise in areas that you do not.
  3. Take a chance on yourself and your business and jump in!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

​The meaning behind Square Root is simple - if you look at it in math terms, the square root of a number is that number in its most basic form. And that is exactly the way we feel about food. ​Our products are all made of real food in its most basic form. If you look at our ingredients lists, you see nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices. Real food. The food you can feel good about putting into your body. The food you can feel great about sharing with your friends and family. Food that loves you back, just as much as you love it.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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