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Saint Mary’s students market new soda for business course

Ashley Charnley | Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Many students dream of starting their own businesses in the future, but for five Saint Mary’s students, that dream is becoming a reality.

Juniors Lindsey Downs, Hannah Hupp, Loren Sampson and Hanna Vicary and senior Jeanne Michael developed Twist O’Luck soda as part of a course called New Venture. Hupp described the drink as a lemon lime soda with a grapefruit flavor.

The class is new to Saint Mary’s this year and is meant to inspire student entrepreneurship, business professor Susan Vance said.

Vance, who is leading this semester’s groups, said it isn’t a normal class.

“This is a great non-traditional class,” Vance said. “In the fall semester, three teams of students developed a business concept, did a feasibility study, wrote a business plan and pitched their idea to a loan committee consisting of business faculty and professional bankers.”

Vicary said the class was challenging.

“Entering the New Venture class I did not realize the complexities of launching a small business, as well as the amount of time and energy involved in the process,” she said. “The entire first semester we worked on the logistics including coming up with our idea, writing a business plan, pitching our idea to the Saint Mary’s business department and local bankers, and going through the loan process. We then ordered the soda, submitted the labels for print and put it on the shelves. We are excited to be in the implementation stage.”

Vance said she and assistant business professor Bob Williams, along with an alumna mentor, lead each team. The other teams involved in New Venture will be debuting their products later in the semester.

“[Twist O’Luck] is the first student company in SMC history to launch from the newly created entrepreneurship initiative,” Vance said.

The group said they enjoyed launching and creating the project.

“Developing our own product was a lot of fun. We had an image in mind and Northwoods Soda helped us produce it,” Michael said.

“We knew we wanted a green, refreshing soda and we wanted the novelty of having a glass bottle. One of our greatest challenges was designing the label. We wanted the design to reflect the name Twist O’ Luck and create curiosity about the product.”

A small distributor produces the soda.

“[Twist O’Luck] is produced by a small craft soda producer, is definitely not mass-produced and the quality shows,” she said.

The students launched the drink at Saint Mary’s Noble Family Dining Hall with great success, Vance said.

“The product has been doing great,” Sampson said. “There has been a lot of shown interest in our soda. We have sparked curiosity throughout our customers. We cannot wait to see how the product sells through the remainder of the year.”

The College now sells the soda in the Student Center for $1.69 per bottle.

“Seeing what a success the promotional event was, we are excited to see how far Twist O’ Luck can go,” Downs said. “We plan on going to smaller local businesses to market Twist O’ Luck, making it more available to the public. Therefore, let’s see how far our Luck can take us.”