Kelly Hosey is a junior Business Management major with a HRD minor from Columbia, MD. Kelly handled all of the social media updates, photo-feed, and other Internet related tasks for the team.
Steven Bell is a junior Business Management major with a TIE concentration and CIS minor from Hinesburg, Vermont. Steven was the main contact between the team and our suppliers. He also handled most of the ordering and shipping related tasks for our products.
Mikail Faalasli is a junior Business Management major with a Business Analytics minor from Fairfax, VA. Mikail handled most of the campus approval paperwork throughout the semester, as well as the video filming/editing for the final project.
Waffles to GoEdit
We started off the semester brainstorming ideas that would be both unique and essential for the typical JMU student. Steven had spent the previous semester in Belgium and mentioned that they sold individual, pre-packaged Belgium waffles in stores and vending machines over there. We figured this would be a unique item to sell here on campus in locations like Showker Hall, considering
there are multiple groups who have gone abroad to Belgium for the COB 300 program and would be familiar with our product.
We found a supplier in California who gets the dough for the waffles shipped directly form Belgium. We started out with a batch of 80 waffles and sold them in Showker lobby for $2 during the first two months of the semester. With a profit margin of only around 65 cents, we decided that is was best to drop the waffle business and pursue other business venture options in order to make our desired profit for the class.
After the waffle business ended, our team was back to brainstorming ways to make a quick profit so we would have more capital to broaden our options for new ventures. While looking through Goodwill one day, Steven recognized some flight simulator equipment that looked interesting. After looking it up on eBay, we realized that we could sell some of these items for over $250 online. With this extra profit under our belt, we had the opportunity to put the money into our next venture, color changing cups.
Innovation (Cup Design)Edit
Our previous ventures focused on buying items in bulk and reselling them for a profit. We wanted to focus on innovation and create a product that we could call our own. We thought that if we created a product on our own we would be able to sell it for a lower price and still have a good profit margin. After looking around Walmart we thought about customizing tumbler cups. Insulated tumbler cups are are hollow inside so we
wanted to experiment with ejecting something into the hollow part of the cup.
First, we tried injecting freezer gel into the cup. We wanted to design a cup that
would keep a drink cold without dilution. Our first prototype had a couple issues including cracking on the bottom and difficulties sealing the hole after filling the cup with gel. We decided to test several different mixtures including rubbing alcohol, tonic water, highlighter ink and the gel. We wanted to make a mixture that would glow under a black light and not freeze solid (to prevent cracking). We later decided to end this venture since we had concerns related to sealing the cup and low market demand.
Color Changing CupsEdit
Near the end of the semster we decided to start one last venture in an attempt to meet the profit goal. Since it was the begining of spring we wanted to have a product that would be in demand during the spring and summer time. After searching online we found a company that sells customizable color changing cups. When a cold drink is poured into the cup, it changes from clear to blue. Since we only had a couple weeks left we didn't want to spend time dealing with the licensing process. We chose to put a purple paw print on the cup because it can be associated with the duke dog paw print however it is not one of JMU's trademarks.
Once the cups arrived, we began selling in Showker the next day. The cups cost us about $.86 each and we were selling the cups for $4 each. During our first day of sales the cups didn't sell as quick as we were hoping.
Most of our biggest challenges were related to the Waffles to Go business. First, we had some difficulty getting approval for selling on campus. We needed to receive approval from Aramark before selling on campus. Aramark was very reluctant to give us approval because it was not a bake sale however eventually we got approval. We were restricted to selling non perishable items which meant we couldn't make our own waffles or add toppings.
Another challenge related to the waffles was our low price margin. We were unable to purchase the waffles at wholesale price which affected our margin significantly. We sold the waffles for $2 a piece and still made only $0.65 profit per waffle.
What we learnedEdit
We learned that it's important to thoroughly test a business idea before shutting down and moving to the next idea. In terms of the waffle business, we probably should have kept selling. We think that the demand was increasing as people became familiar with the product. While the margin was low, if demand increased enough we could have been successful.
We also learned that it's important to thoroughly test the market before starting a venture. Since we were short on time, we didn't end up testing all of our ventures. It's really important to gain insight and make sure that there is a demand for your product. In the end, we would have saved time and money if we had talked to potential customers about our idea before investing a lot of money and time into it.