Shortly after they started dating in 2010, Robert Dalton and his wife Nicole had a dinner to remember.

What began as a romantic meal for two ended in a trip to the emer­gency room after Dalton's meal was cross-​​contaminated with nuts. He is deathly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and went into ana­phy­lactic shock.

Dalton, a 2007 grad­uate of North­eastern with a bachelor's degree in his­tory, would be OK fol­lowing the scare. But the expe­ri­ence started a con­ver­sa­tion between he and Nicole about what kinds of foods were avail­able to people with allergies.

“It was Nicole's first expe­ri­ence with food aller­gies,” Dalton explained, “and it really sparked us to learn more about what snack foods were on the market that were not only safe enough for me to eat but also mar­keted effec­tively and tasted good enough for Nicole to enjoy as well.”

After iden­ti­fying an oppor­tu­nity in the healthy snack food space geared toward the growing number of people with food aller­gies, Rob and Nicole decided to start their own business.

Fol­lowing 18 months of plan­ning, the couple cre­ated and sam­pled thou­sands of prod­ucts and then launched 88 acres on Sept. 22 to coin­cide with a Kick­starter cam­paign. Their ven­ture is named after the 88-​​acre farm on which Nicole grew up.

“We create healthy snacks free of the top eight food aller­gens that are crafted with simple ingre­di­ents and designed for all to enjoy,” Dalton said.

Less than 60 hours after their 30-​​day Kick­starter cam­paign went live on Sunday, they sur­passed their ini­tial $20,000 funding goal. With more than three weeks remaining in the cam­paign, the couple aims to con­tinue to build on its ini­tial suc­cess. The money raised will help fund the ini­tial pro­duc­tion run of 88 acres' first product line—three fla­vors of gra­nola bars.

Dalton said they ulti­mately want to offer snacks for cus­tomers' food needs throughout the day. “We def­i­nitely have pretty grand visions for what we want to be,” he said, “but we have to start small, show suc­cess, and then build off of that.”

After grad­u­ating from North­eastern, the bud­ding entre­pre­neur has become heavily involved with IDEA, the university's student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, which helps stu­dents and alumni create, develop, and accel­erate new busi­nesses through coaching, men­toring, and funding. 88 acres received $10,000 in gap funding from IDEA and was also accepted to Mass­Chal­lenge, an accel­er­ator pro­gram that con­nects entre­pre­neurs to the resources they need to be successful.

In addi­tion to IDEA's men­tor­ship, Dalton said he and Nicole have received great advice and feed­back from talking with other entre­pre­neurs, and they hope to rec­i­p­ro­cate by helping future entre­pre­neurs. “We are not going to be a ven­ture that comes in, gets some gap funding money, and then goes off into the dis­tance never to be heard from again,” Dalton said.