Realization of a Dream: IE/CS undergrad entrepreneurs
As a freshman, Davis was accustomed to buying and mixing together multiple vitamin water flavors from Harrison Grille in his dorm. One late night while taking a study break, he was disappointed to find that the Grille was closed, and thought, "There should be an automated dispensing solution for this!" To address this problem, his Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTR 200) team entered the Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition to create an automated, self-serve food and beverage dispenser business plan, choosing frozen yogurt as their product.
The team found practical help and support through the Purdue Foundry, a commercialization accelerator in the Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. They entered the February 2016 Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition as freshmen, placed second in the event, and won $10,000 for their start-up idea. In February 2017, they were finalists in the Baylor (University) New Venture competition, receiving $1,500 for their business plan. They also received $20,000 from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund Black Award.
The first part of the FroYo XPress launch ceremony took place in the 3rd Street Suites. On behalf of the team, Davis thanked Purdue Dining and Catering for helping with the project - and for being their first customer since it manages 3rd Street Market. He also thanked the Purdue Foundry for its development support, and the Purdue Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Innovation program for the practical knowledge about entrepreneurship that the team members gained while earning their certificates.
Panda followed with summary of the startup's history and motivation. "We created this idea of doing frozen yogurt in the form of an automated kiosk," she said. "Frozen yogurt is something that we wanted to provide [as] a healthier alternative to what we see out on campus."
Next, Berkemeier described the evolution of their idea into an operational business. "It’s been a really great learning experience," he said. "We're excited to bring this product to Boilermakers and we're excited to see where this goes in the future."
Dr. Timothy Peoples, managing director of the Purdue Foundry, affirmed Purdue's support for what the students accomplished. "This team really is the model of what students are all about here at Purdue – we're learning, we're teaching, we're educating, and then we're graduating students into the marketplace," he explained.
Purdue Dining and Catering's Thomas Coleman, director of retail dining, mentioned the project's value to the student entrepreneurs. "I think the Foundry did an outstanding job with this group of students – not only are they good people but they're great students," he said.
The second part of the launch took place at the 3rd Street Market, crowded with students, faculty and staff eagerly awaiting the kiosk unveiling. Jay Akridge, Purdue provost and vice president for academic affairs and diversity, introduced the team and spoke about how the opportunities at Purdue turned the startup into a reality.
"We're excited to celebrate the realization of a dream that these three students had to launch this new business venture," said Akridge. "It's just a wonderful story. Part of this campus is about helping students like you who are interested in creating and launching new business ventures to leave this place with the tools to make that happen."
After Berkemeier, Davis and Panda whisked a black covering off of the kiosk, students and others lined up for free samples. The product comes in two sizes of vanilla, chocolate, or twist; and offers chocolate chip, cashew, and granola toppings.
Currently, FroYo XPress operates during business hours at 3rd Street Market (see below), but the team is working on refining swipe card access technology to allow it to serve customers 24/7.
The team also plans to add more locations and eventually would like to dispense other healthy foods from similar kiosks. The website states: "FroYo XPress will make nourishment cheaper and more accessible to current consumers, and in the long term, will allow lower-income consumers to have access to food that they never had access to before."
Fellow Boilermakers responded positively after tasting the samples. "I really like the chocolate! I'm not usually a big fan of chocolate, but I really like this chocolate," said a female student. "It's really nice to have a dairy-free alternative."
A nearby group of students agreed. "The FroYo XPress experience is awesome!" they said.
Writer: DeEtte Starr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: R. Marek Davis, email@example.com
3rd Street Market is open Mondays-Fridays 9AM-11PM, and Saturdays and Sundays 11AM-11PM at 1196 Third Street, West Lafayette.
The FroYo XPress mission is to engage food and beverage retailers with the future of digitized business, while making food and beverage highly accessible and more affordable to consumers of all kinds.
The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is the hub for cross-campus entrepreneurship education at Purdue University. Started in 2005, it is one of the largest multi-disciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country, serving approximately 1,800 students each year. Housed in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and administered through Purdue's Office of the Provost, the program empowers students in all academic disciplines to turn their innovative ideas into action. For more information, go to purdue.edu/entr.
Purdue Dining and Catering's mission is to nourish and inspire the Purdue community. For more information, go to dining.purdue.edu