Mom and Daughter Lose Three Family Members to Cancer, Team Up to Fundraise

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Chicago-based entrepreneur, Daniela Bolzmann, is a Techstars alumna whose last company, WeDeliver, was acquired earlier this year. She's now in charge of another startup in the city, Breather, a company that rents out private space by the hour.

"My tech startup background is my first love," she says, "but in my spare time I enjoy creative projects like a supper club I host at home. It gives my chef boyfriend a creative outlet."

Now Bolzmann and her mother, Mariel LeValley, have teamed up on another venture, a give-back candle business; their way of fundraising for cancer research. The project is called MATCH + LIGHT.

Here, Bolzmann tells us how it all started:

A family business! I love it. What can you tell us about your mother?

My mother is my best friend, my hero and my business partner. She moved to the US in her twenties, became a single mom and taught herself English and programming to pay the bills. She later remarried and raised four kids while climbing the corporate ladder and, ultimately, running an IT department. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her work ethic. Today, we are both working full-time jobs as we grow MATCH + LIGHT, a passion project to give back to causes that we care about. 

Why cancer?

Cancer is personal for us. My mom has lost her two sisters and mother to cancer so we've always wanted to do more but in our own way. My mom and I are also both very creative types of people so we wanted to put our creativity to use, and make a product that could impact more lives.

And 'Be the Match...'

Be the Match was a natural fit because they need more awareness around the work they do to find life-saving marrow matches for blood cancer patients. Jonny Imerman has also been incredibly supportive and gave some invaluable feedback during the development of MATCH + LIGHT, so we look forward to working with Imerman Angels soon too.

Essentially, you're selling candles...

Yes, MATCH + LIGHT was originally inspired by these candles my mom hand-made for this supper club, ATE 3 FOUR. When we noticed the impact they were having, by sparking intimate and meaningful conversations, we decided to do more with them. 
 

How does MATCH + LIGHT work?

Each limited edition candle features an artist and a cause. With nine in ten American homes having candles as decor, we see our candles as the perfect way to leave a lasting impression, bring art into people's homes as well as sparking meaningful conversations for a cause we all care about. The first cause we chose is cancer.

The next cause will be decided by the community of supporters on our Indiegogo campaign. 
 

Where will proceeds go?

Four dollars from each candle will go directly to Be The Match, the nation's bone marrow registry. They help find life-saving bone marrow matches for blood cancer patients. 70% of blood cancer patients do not have a match within their own family to they rely on Be The Match to help them find a match. It's incredible work they are doing and we want to support that work.

Visit MATCH + LIGHT online to learn more.

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*Images: Nikki Ritcher for the Chicago Tribune; Lisa Diedrich for MATCH + LIGHT