"A 'SWEET' way to make a difference"
Cancer Sucks are sweet and delicious lollipops in the form of cancer ribbons meant for anyone to enjoy. Unlike other lollipops, our solution provides the buyer with a tasty fulfillment to their sweet craving as well as the satisfaction in knowing they are helping to support a great cause; With every sale, a portion of our profits is donated to the American Cancer Society.
Cancer Sucks was started by three students at James Madison University through the course MGT 372 "Entrepreneurship". These students are Tevonté Grant, Brandon Hilton, and Brian Hope.
Getting Started: Any Ideas?Edit
When we first began we were all idea dry and had nothing. We decided to meet up and come up with three ideas; each bringing one idea that we would discuss as a group and bring to the class for feedback. The rough drafts we came up with were: ClassSkully's - skull caps that display student's class (graduation year) on them. SparkCap - a cross between a lighter and bottle opener. Lastly, ShockPops - lollipops with energy products in them (like Red Bull). I'm sure you can guess which idea led us to Cancer Sucks. That's right, ShockPops.
We decided that the lollipops would be the easiest of the three ideas to test, being that Brian's girlfriend already knew how to make lollipops. However, after talks with Professor Wales, we realized that the energy component needs to be taken out due to health risk issues and poor taste ( how good would a Red Bull lollipop be? Yuck.) The next choice was choosing what mold to use. Brian brought in lollipops in the shapes of bears, hearts, and others, but the one that stuck out and gave us our idea was the one shaped like a Cancer Awareness Ribbon.
Getting Started: Let's get out there! Edit
Since we had already made several lollipops already, we figured we should try to sell them one d ay after a meeting we had in ECL. We took 15 minutes to just walk around the library, pitch our idea, and see if people would want to buy. We made $15 in those 15 minutes. From this it was decided that we would do this type of selling at least once a week (for a longer period of time of course).
<insert video here>
We did direct selling two more times and used it as a way to identify our market. We were able to make $100 one day by simply going to E-hall and Festival selling our products. This however was not easy, mistakes were made and lessons learned. For instance:
1. Selling during lunch while people are eating can be effective or a complete disaster. Because people are eating most don't want to be bothered. In addition to this, we thought, because it was lunch time more people would have wallets on them, however most peolple only brought their JAC Card with them.
2. We kept the suckers in a big bag that had seperate bags inside. Horrible method. Sometimes it took forever to go inside the bag and find what flavors people wanted.
3. We found out that we needed to reduce the amount of flavors offered. Certain flavors just weren't selling such as Root Beer, Lime, and some others. We decided to still try to sell the rest of them but not to produce any more of them to reduce our cost/waste.
We were inspired by the video Wales showed us of the team "College Wood" who made shirts for themselves and got interest from people to buy them. We decided to take a little bet and invest in 25 shirts and see if people would actually buy them. We received the design you see below and decided to move forward with the order.
To our surprise the shirts were well received and just by wearing them around we received many compliments, orders, and future buyers. We were able to sell a majority of the shirts we ordered and even sold a shirt to the Entrepreneurial genius himself, Professor Wales, who told us after wearing it out to play racket ball that he also received compliments on his Cancer Sucks attire. Professor Wales also indicated that it had been a long time since he bought one of his students' projects so this was a monumental moment for Cancer Sucks.
Just by telling people what we are doing, they are %100 supporters and some of these supporters have given us connections and opportunities to sell Cancer Sucks at various events.
Tri Delta : Delta Desserts
The first to reach out to us was the Delta Delta Delta (Tri Delta) sorority. They invited us to sell our lollipops and shirts at their Delta Desserts event and guaranteed that their would be more than 700 people in attendance. From this we decided to take a bigger bet and order 100 shirts and produce as many lollipops as we can. Unfortunately, the event did not go as well as we anticipated. There were indeed over 700 people as promised, however, almost everybody who attended did not bring their wallet because they purchased their ticket in advance. Nevertheless, we were able to make money that day from shirt and lollipop sales and thanked Tri Delta for the opportunity.
Sig Ep : Flight Against Leukemia
This event, held at New Market Airport and organized by the Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) fraternity, was not very successful as far as bringing in many sales. Nonetheless, we continued to meet people and get our product's name out there. Plus this was a really cool event and definitely worth a try as an outlet for selling the shirts and lollipops.
Relay For Life At JMU
Without a doubt, the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life was our most successful event. It was the best atmosphere for selling this product. There were countless people there, all in the spirit of fighting cancer. Both the shirts and lollipops were received very well by the public and we sold a higher number of each than we did at any other single event.
Advice For Future TeamsEdit
Personal Selling/Pitching Is Very Effective
Feedback from face-to-face interaction with living, breathing customers is the most effective way of learning and understanding the demand, if any, for your product. Find out exactly what the customer wants and adjust your idea accordingly. Plus it is harder for people to say no when you approach them in person.
Reach Out To JMU and/or Community Organizations
If you have a product that ties in with the mission of any organization, then reach out to them for support as they can be a critical outlet for pushing your product out to customers. Having a product tied to the movement to eliminate cancer allowed us to sell at numerous cancer-related events through various organizations.