The Michigan Engineer News Center

Aero alumni launch company named to “50 Colorado Startups to Watch in 2017”

College of Engineering alums Suzanne and Kevin Hayen (BSAE ’08 and BSEE ’08) found company Let’s Be Chefs named to "50 Colorado Startups to Watch in 2017" by Built In Colorado. | Medium Read
IMAGE:  Kevin and Suzanne Hayen

Aerospace engineering can serve as a foundation for fields far beyond aviation; for alumna Suzanne Hayen (BSAE ’08), her aerospace background evolved into a path of entrepreneurship. With her husband Kevin, Suzanne has launched a company Let’s Be Chefs that has been named of the “50 Colorado Startups to Watch in 2017” by Built In Colorado.

Suzanne explains the origins of her entrepreneurial interest and its tie-in to engineering:

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to work for myself. When my husband and I decided to have a kid, I left my career as an aerospace engineer to stay home and decided to start a tech startup shortly thereafter. The biggest crossover between engineering and business has been problem solving. I’m constantly having to come up with solutions to problems and I often need to pick up new skills in order to solve those problems; this has been very similar to my experience in engineering as well.”

The concept for Let’s Be Chefs emerged from Suzanne’s personal need. Her family “wanted to eat healthier and make more home-cooked meals, but struggled to find new recipes, plan our week, and ensure [they] had all the correct ingredients on hand.”

In response, Suzanne and her husband developed an app that intelligently recommends recipes, optimizes food preparation steps and grocery lists, and provides notifications for cooking times; the goal being to “solve all of the issues surrounding getting a home-cooked meal on the table (such as planning, grocery shopping, recipes, serving sizes, and cooking), rather than just focusing on one small piece.”


The biggest crossover between engineering and business has been problem solving.Suzanne Hayen

Incorporating elements such as machine learning to improve recipe recommendations, development and maintenance of Let’s Be Chefs has its slew of technical challenges:

“Consumers have very high expectations from apps these days (stability, appearance, user interface, features, etc.), and it takes a tremendous amount of effort to ensure that we always release quality updates. We have a small team, so we’re constantly balancing new features with bug fixes, interface design, content creation, and more.”

Let’s Be Chefs is not Suzanne’s first foray into entrepreneurship. She and her husband released the app Jetivity as a free platform for coordinating recreational activities. When asked to reflect on the threads that tie her various companies together, Suzanne commented:

“[Kevin and I] love working in the consumer space and tackling problems that we personally experience. This ensures that we have a deeper understanding of the problem and allows us to have unique insights. Plus, it’s a lot more fun working on something that our friends and family can use too.”

Portrait of Ariel Sandberg


Ariel Sandberg
Web Content Intern

Aerospace Engineering

(303) 681-6262

The outside of the Ford Robotics building

U-Michigan, Ford open world-class robotics complex

The facility will accelerate the future of advanced and more equitable robotics and mobility | Medium Read