Another new business has opened up in Sackville thanks to Mount Allison’s Commerce entrepreneurship class. The Quench — a smoothie bar — has set up shop at the campus pub, The Pond, and in its first week of operation business is booming.
Created by the class of 15 students, the business’s five-person executive team is made up of Andrew Marshall, chairperson; James Kwan, VP finance and accounting; Saniya Korhalkar, President; Chris Hill, VP operations and logistics; and Rodney Steeves, VP marketing – all fourth-year Commerce students.
“The excitement around this and the response we have received has surpassed our expectations,” says Steeves. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The original plan was to create a smoothie shack in the University’s Athletic Centre, but after much consideration and consultation with University staff, the plan changed just weeks ago to setting up in The Pond.
“We got really lucky because the partnership has been great,” says Marshall. “I don’t know where we would be right now if we didn’t have the existing infrastructure of The Pond and the support and guidance of University staff members Andy Hebert and Michelle Strain”
In preparation for the soft launch of the business on March 12, the class members and business owners surveyed students for their preferences, completed food safety training, consulted health inspectors, engaged multiple sources for supplies, tested and retested recipes, and crunched the numbers to determine cost.
“We have the measurements down to a science,” says Kwan. “We are trying to keep the prices low and keep people coming back for more.”
The class has been working on the concept since January and presented the business plan to an internal university loan committee, who approved a start-up loan of $5,000. This funding, provided by the Dobson Foundation, is presented as a loan and is to be repaid with interest by the class members and the business.
Dean of social sciences and long-time professor of the entrepreneurship class, Dr. Nauman Farooqi, says “What has impressed me about this group is their ability as a team to quickly regroup and respond to an increase in demand of their product,” he says. “The ability to scale up in a timely manner is a critical factor that not many entrepreneurs can cope with successfully.”
Each class member currently works shifts at the smoothie bar and the plan for the future of the business post-graduation is to hire student managers and staff.
“The amount of time you spend, this class is a job,” says Hill. “You start it, you work it, and you run it. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding.”
After a busy first week, The Quench will have a Grand Opening on Monday, March 19 in The Pond, ground floor of the Wallace McCain Student Centre. Running regular hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be music, games, discounts, and giveaways all day, plus social media contests. Check out @TheQuenchInc on Facebook and Instagram.