Spring 2015

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Michelle Schechter creates her cookie dough creations at the Norris University Center kitchen.

For Real Dough

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Ever wonder about those strange designations we use throughout Northwestern to identify alumni of the various schools of the University? See the complete list.

Senior theater major turns engineering class project into tasty startup.

That sweet satisfaction of sneaking a bite of raw cookie dough is a childhood memory for many. Senior theater major Michelle Schechter brought that concept to her industrial engineering entrepreneurship class last year, throwing her culinary creativity and business acumen into the mix to whip up a successful startup.

For the class’ final project, Schechter and her team of industrial engineering partners were asked to propose and ultimately pitch a business idea to a group of investors. Her team developed For Real Dough, an eggless and dairy-free cookie dough that, thanks to a secret ingredient, does not need to be refrigerated.

Schechter’s group won the pitch competition, and when the quarter ended, Schechter decided to turn the project into a full-fledged business. On a whim, she sent an email to President Morton Schapiro, who invited Schechter to chat at his office. Shortly after their 90-minute conversation, Schechter had buy-in from dining services, alumni relations and other campus departments. 

Schechter now sells the For Real Dough bite-size cookie dough balls — in chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and peanut butter crunch flavors — in a three-pack at campus convenience stores.

“It’s really been amazing, all the support I’ve gotten from the University,” says Schechter, who uses kitchen space in Norris University Center on Monday nights, the one night each week when she’s not in rehearsals. In addition to her theater studies, the former math major from Upper Saddle River, N.J., is also pursuing a musical theater certificate and a business minor.

Schechter, who has run For Real Dough largely on her own, is bringing other students into the company. She’s also planning new products, including mason jars filled with cookie dough, and she is experimenting with several new flavors, including dark chocolate chipotle, red velvet and sea salt caramel.