Christine Reimer ('19 MBA)

Jenna Marynowski, BAA Communications Committee Volunteer - 15 June 2021

Bringing an athlete's mindset to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and other start-ups, Christine Reimer ('19 MBA) is a co-founder of 7 Summits Snacks. Founded in 2019 in memory of RH Fisher’s last adventure, 7 Summits Snacks has a passion for chocolate and health, providing purposeful nutrition and satisfying chocolate products to get you through your next adventure. Here, Christine chats with the Business Alumni Association and reflects on doing her MBA part-time and catching a taste for entrepreneurship.

Christine Reimer, co-founder of 7 Summits Snacks

BAA: Tell us about your experience at the Alberta School of Business. What are your favourite memories?

The MBA program (part-time!) was a fantastic experience. Initially, I thought it would be an excellent way to move up/shift my career but stay in the same industry. It never works out the way you planned; the more entrepreneurial-focused classes I took, the more I wanted to engage in the start-up space. An opportunity to shift careers came up (haha, after my first layoff, postpartum), so I transitioned to a biotech spinoff from the U of A. A baby and new career led to my lengthier than average MBA. While most of my early classmates graduated before me, I have a rich network from classes that spanned 5 years. I usually know someone who knows someone when I'm looking for the right person to talk to. Memorable parts were the MBA games (SO fun), but also the shared challenges—where you and your project partners make eye contact across the room and know the second half of night class will be at the pub, doing the real work over beverages.

A humorous aside: the only class that fit my schedule pre-maternity leave was Women In Leadership. I finished my final paper three days before having my daughter. I reflect on that class now as I can't unsee how subtle sexism in the workplace affects women’s careers. I absolutely fit into that "non-traditional" career path many women take. I've worked with progressively earlier stage start-ups and eventually just started my own company with friends.

BAA: Tell us about your business, 7 Summits Snacks. Where did the idea for the business come from? What has been important to you and your co-founders as you've built the company?

To be totally transparent, 7 Summits Snacks wasn't my idea. My fabulous cofounders (marathon runner/food scientist Kristyn Carriere and triathlete/fitness guru Leanna Carriere) had a problem finding training fuel that was functional, tasty, and correctly packaged. As a friend and former training partner, they asked me to assess the business opportunity and I did as part of professor Michael Lounsbury's SMO 686, my entrepreneurial strategizing class. 

The market opportunity for functional foods is growing, and our products are innovative —  "innovative" also means we need to educate our target market since similar products don't exist. 7 Summits Snacks has kept a strong commitment to quality. We source ethical and sustainable ingredients and packaging, and work with a similar-minded co-manufacturer. We include ingredients everyone can understand since purposeful nutrition shouldn't be complicated! Before release, products were tested with over 100 athletes and active folks for taste, appeal, functional fueling, functional packaging and pricing for our online store. Our Endurance Bars fuel cyclists, runners and hikers with the same carbs you'd find in a gel (but, you know, it tastes good) and our Everyday Bars are a delicious treat to share (or not).  7 Summits Snacks wants to fuel our growing community of chocolate-loving adventurers, so it's as much about people as it is about solving a problem.

BAA: How has 7 Summits Snacks grown since you formed the company? What have been some of the memorable milestones along the way, and what should we keep an eye out for next?

Since launch last fall, we've steadily increased online sales and now have 33 partner retailers, mostly sports stores and boutiques, across Alberta and British Columbia. Besides gaining partner retailers, big milestones were: gaining financing, launching our ambassador team, and launching our most recent flavour — the Denali — our first milk chocolate featuring subtle peanut butter and jelly. In terms of people, we've added another triathlete to our management team (Jason Britton, also an MBA, 2009) and a part-time customer service representative this summer (Ashlynn Schofield). 

Keep a lookout online (Facebook and Instagram) for our monthly social(ly distanced) runs, hikes and bikes, and ongoing contests for a chance to win some chocolatey prizes. We'll also be at the Sinister 7 Races with a team and volunteers!

BAA: Much of your career has taken place in life sciences industries. What's it been like to move into the food industry in co-founding your company?

What was it like to move into the food industry... hmm, I would say I haven't entirely. Product validation and business development have similarities across industries. There's more branding/consumer science involved in food than in work I've previously done. Fun fact: consumers say one thing but act differently, whereas scientists and doctors (previous customers) are usually pretty straightforward. The regulatory component in food is less onerous than pharmaceuticals or medical devices, but it's still there. 

I've moved into the start-up space certainly, but my co-founders have expertise in food science and the motivation to do the hard work of scaling. I'm actually transitioning out of the day-to-day and beginning work with another start-up!

BAA: How has your Alberta School of Business education influenced your business? Has being part of the alumni network had an impact on its success?
The alumni network has absolutely been helpful. As above, I've found I can ask my fellow alumni for introductions to the right people. In addition, I've had mentorship from Darryl Lesiuk, one of the MBA instructors, since beginning this endeavour.

BAA: Do you have any advice for others looking to pursue entrepreneurship?

I think the business idea and requisite passion and motivation to actually see it through are the most important parts. My co-founders have that in spades! I think the strategy and networking parts of early business are also important (this is where the MBA was helpful). Don't be afraid to go and talk to someone about your business ideas and take the feedback with an open mind. Just putting an idea out in the world can be scary; not everyone will see it as feasible, but use that opportunity to make it better!

BAA: If alumni want a taste of 7 Summits Snacks - where can they find your bars?

Bars can be found on our website:, which also includes a store locator for our retail partners.

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