Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 8 at P.S. Snacks

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 12:02 am

I think that my experience as a marketing intern for P.S. Snacks for the past eight weeks was a success. Throughout these eight weeks, I conducted demos in local health food stores to build brand awareness, was the brand ambassador at events in the Washington, D.C. area, and networked with other influencers/healthy lifestyle promoters to increase our presence on social media.

The aspect that I think was the most successful was attending events in the city where we would be sampling our dough. These events were successful because usually it was geared toward marketing segments that we are targeting. Additionally, these events usually had other start-up food ventures which made it a great opportunity to network and collaborate with others. One thing that could’ve gone better was reaching out to social media influencers. Many of the influencers we reached out to did end up vocalizing their support for our brand which increased our presence on social media, however, many influencers have a media fee for sponsored posts that we were not able to provide since all of our funds are going towards production and getting into new stores. In the future, I think it would be important to find more local influencers that would guarantee a post on their social media platforms, so that we don’t waste time or money.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is that starting your own venture takes patience and that it is not a 9 to 5 job. Nikki and I were constantly responding to correspondence from other contacts around the clock since we had to be on the ball in order to move forward with P.S. Snacks. Though it can be a good thing that you are your own boss, it also increases the pressure since it is your business/product/idea and it is up to you whether it succeeds or fails. I think the career path of an entrepreneur is unique as well as all consuming since it is your labor of love and can become your life. I think all these things can be good if you are passionate about your product, message, and have clear goals set for the future.

Week 7 at P.S. Snacks

Monday, June 26, 2017 10:44 am

Last week was probably one of the busiest weeks I’ve had at P.S. Snacks so far. We had an all day photoshoot for our social media content that consisted of days worth of preparation in order to get all the ideas, props, and recipes in order. Since a lot of the content on their social media is recipe-based, we had to come up with new and inventive ways to use the Cookie Dough. Additionally, we try to involve products from other health food companies in order to be able to co-brand and tag them in posts, which will increase the exposure of our brand. I also went to two events to represent P.S. Snacks, one being a tasting at Equinox that involved other companies like Sweetgreen for a “Summer Solstice” sampling where their members got to take samples and hear about our company. The second event was an all you can eat happy hour event where roughly 20 different companies set up booths for sampling.

Throughout my time at P.S. Snacks, I have learned a few things about leadership and entrepreneurial management. One big thing I’ve learned is the importance of delegation. As a start-up, there are many red tape and nit-picky tasks that need to get resolved to reach the end goal. However, it is important to delegate those tasks to other members of the team since for the big picture tasks, the founder will have to be the one that’s directly solving the issue since they know their company and their goals for it more than anyone else. As the leader of the venture, they must prioritize which tasks need their direct attention and which can be delegated. Another thing I’ve learned about entrepreneurial management is that it is okay to ask for outside help. Whether this be advice about the business timeline, collaboration with others for the creative part of the business, or honest feedback about the product itself. When just starting out in a business, it is important to be open to all feedback and criticism since others have done this before and have figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Week 6 at P.S. Snacks

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 12:33 am

The biggest challenge facing P.S. Snacks currently is that we cannot meet our increasing demand. Since we are starting to sell in new stores, online, as well as at events; more and more consumers are becoming interested in the P.S. Snacks company and product. Though in theory this is a good issue to have, it is very difficult to deal with because it is a lot of “wait and see”. The solution to this issue is to move into a co-packer facility where they would produce our Cookie Dough for us, thereby increasing supply dramatically. This would also allow a few of us on the team to focus on other tasks that use our specific skill sets. Though we have found candidates for co-packing, with this change, we may also have to change our labels, packaging, etc. to cooperate with the co-packer’s policies and norms. All of these minute tasks take time as well as trial and error, but hopefully it is resolved in the near future so that P.S. Snacks can move into the next phase.

The key competitors for P.S. Snacks are other health-conscious cookie doughs or desserts that cater to dietary restrictions and allergies. Especially in the market we are selling in, these products are becoming more and more popular with new ventures being created all the time. We are able to compete with these products due to our unique ingredients and the genuine story behind the brand. Another group of competitors for us is brands that sell protein bars, nut butters, and other good-for-you treats. When doing a demo pitch, we combat these competitors by explaining to our consumers how our product is a great “any time of day” treat and meets almost every dietary limitation. Additionally, we have marketing materials that show the versatility of the product as well as the transparency of our ingredients. The P.S. Snacks products are very unique while also being something familiar (i.e. Cookie Dough) which I believe will beat our competitors in the long run.

Week 5 at P.S. Snacks

Monday, June 12, 2017 10:51 am

In the past 5 weeks, I have learned a lot about the culture of the P.S. Snacks company. Currently, we are producing out of a local food incubator, Union Kitchen. This is a commercial space where many local food startups pay to rent a space where they can produce, cook, and package the good that they are selling. It is a communal space which creates and environment of camaraderie among all of the business owners. This is created not only by the shared space, but also, all of the business owners can relate to one another through their successes as well as their challenges.

Since we are a team of only 4 people, which includes the founder, marketing manager, operations manager, and me, most decisions are made as a team. We collaborate with one another and give each other our opinions and thoughts about different challenges that come about. For example, the marketing manager and I look together at each event that requests our product/sampling/demo and see who is available to be the point of contact and on site at the actual event. Additionally, it takes multiple people within our team to figure out the best course of action to take when we have to overcome a challenge.

The challenges that come up on the day to day basis are usually delegated and addressed head on, or we work with multiple people in order to come to a solution. Successes are celebrated, and then we discuss what the next step is in the process in order to increase that success.

Week 4 at P.S. Snacks

Monday, June 5, 2017 11:23 am

For this blog post, I also wanted to answer some of the questions from the comments I received on my last post asking about what was the inspiration behind the P.S. Snacks company. When Nikki was in college, she developed a gluten intolerance and that, paired with her healthy and active lifestyle inspired her to create a blog, Slender Seven. With that, came her new invention for cookie dough made out of chickpeas which was inspired by her mother’s blondie recipe that she loved as a child. In the recent year, she rebranded to P.S. Snacks because she wanted to separate her college blog from her future company so that she would be able to create her unique and individual business and brand. One of the most recent growing pains that I have directly come into contact with is manufacturing. Right now, we are manufacturing in a food incubator and making the dough ourselves. Because of this, we cannot possibly meet the demand that is quickly increasing across the U.S. The answer to this problem is to find a co-packer that will manufacture the product in a facility and be able to increase our supply immensely. Throughout the business cycle of her venture, Nikki has had the advice from her parents, investors, and fellow business owners to help her go in a successful direction to grow her company.

This week marks the halfway point of my internship at P.S. Snacks. What I am most proud of is that I have been able to work and collaborate with other companies on events and samplings completely on my own. I found their contact information, emailed them, coordinated the event/sampling, and then completed the event successfully by increasing exposure and awareness for the P.S. Snacks company. One thing that I’ve definitely learned and experienced is that though not being able to meet your demand is in theory a good problem to have, it is still a problem and could end up being catastrophic for any business. I hope to achieve by the end of this internship a sense of the big picture of all the moving parts that go into growing a successful venture. Not only am I able to see this by working for Nikki’s company, but I am also able to see this when I’m working in Union Kitchen where a variety of entrepreneurs with different POV’s and products are attempting to start their own venture.

Week 3 at P.S. Snacks

Monday, May 29, 2017 9:19 am

This week, I was helping with the production/operations of the cookie dough, doing demos, and preparing for what was needed to be done in preparation for my boss leaving the country for the next two weeks.

On Wednesday and Thursday, which are my typical days helping with production, we managed to crank out 6 batches of cookie dough. This is all in preparation for supplies needed for demos and if new online orders come through. Also, in the next couple weeks we will be sending our cookie dough to social influencers so that they can advertise our product through their various social media channels which will increase our exposure and brand awareness.

On Tuesday, I spent a couple of hours at a Whole Foods in the D.C. area where I sampled our three flavors of dough to the shoppers that were there during the time window. For every customer, there’s a specific “pitch” to give them, stressing the key values of the P.S. Snacks company such as indulging with a clean conscience and that you can eat it completely raw! Through this pitch I also explain the ingredients that make up the dough, different ways you can use it, and the health benefits of it. I also answered a variety of questions that were specific to certain consumers lifestyle’s and diets. Demoing is not only a great way to sell dough and to create brand awareness but also a way to gather information about the type of consumers we are attracting. At this demo in particular, we reached the family and male segments the most. This is an interesting observation because normally the male segments aren’t as interested in the cookie dough, which is one marketing element we have been working on. Demoing is a great way to put a face to the cookie dough and explain in-person why the cookie dough is such an amazing product.

Lastly this week, we prepared for Nikki’s absence for the next couple of weeks since she will be traveling. For the upcoming weeks, I will be in charge of posting and other activity on her Instagram and we also discussed various plans of action in case new online orders came in.

I’m enjoying the multiple different tasks that I have here at P.S. Snacks, it allows me to see multiple areas of a start-up business and how they are all important for success!

Week 2

Sunday, May 21, 2017 5:07 pm

This week was cool because at the end of the week I got to be a part of two events that we were sampling product at. During the first four days of the week, I also worked on reaching out to social media influencers that could advertise our product on their Instagram accounts or their blogs. I sent out emails to over 100 people and was going to send out more but the initial response was so unexpectedly overwhelming! I had no idea how quickly they would all respond and that they all wanted to try the cookie dough! We also ordered special gifts just for the influencers to send to them once we send them dough to make it a personalized gift. I’m hoping to start sending product to them in the coming weeks.

On Friday and Sunday, I participated in two tastings. On Friday, the marketing manager and I went to an event called “Daybreaker” where a huge amount of people gathered on the Kennedy Center rooftop at 6am for yoga followed by a dance party with a DJ from 7:30am to 9am. We got there around 7:30am and by the time we got there all of our donated product had already been eaten and we got very positive feedback from all the participants. It was a very cool event that I’ve never heard of but it was fun dancing on a rooftop with a view of the monuments at 7:30 in the morning!

On Sunday, I went to a SoulCycle studio in the district by myself to do a sampling for three separate classes. Some of the riders had already tried our cookie dough in the past, and many were eager to try it for the first time. It was a great experience meeting new people and customers as well as the staff that was working at SoulCycle. Doing samplings at places that have similar values as our brand is nice because more people are interested in our product and like it.

I really enjoy collaborating with other events and companies to increase our exposure to different target markets and I’m very quickly realizing that that’s something I would love to do in a future career. Working and meeting with different people is a great way to network while also getting feedback on the product.

Week 1 at P.S. Snacks

Saturday, May 13, 2017 3:24 pm

The start-up that I’m interning for for the next eight weeks is P.S. Snacks, formerly known as Slender Seven. Founded by a Wake Forest alum, Nikki Azzara, P.S. Snacks sells healthy, eggless, gluten free, and vegan raw cookie dough that’s actually good for you because it’s bean-based. Currently, P.S. Snacks is producing and selling three flavors of cookie dough: chocolate chip, peanut butter (both of which are chickpea based), and fudge brownie (which is black bean based) around the D.C. area and online. Last summer, I helped Nikki with the rebranding of her company, but this summer her company is in a completely different stage. My main tasks this summer are going to be to help with production, conduct in-store and out of store demos of the product, and increase the social media presence and exposure of the brand.

Starting on Monday, I met with Nikki to discuss the main objectives and tasks I will have during my time as an intern for her company. Additionally, I went to the production area that we have designated to us at Union Kitchen, a food incubator, to help the operations/production manager scoop and seal the dough so that is was ready for sale.

The rest of the week I was also spending most of my time during the first half of the day with the production of the cookie dough which involved batching out the ingredients, blending them together, scooping them into the packaging, and finally sealing them and packing them in boxes for delivery. One of the goals that Nikki and our operations/production manager hope to accomplish in the near future is to find a co-packer that will take on these responsibilities. This means that they will be able to manufacture our product so that we don’t have to produce it on such a small scale. As exposure and interest for P.S. Snacks is growing, this will be vital to ensuring that we can complete all of our orders for dough.

Another task I worked on a lot this week was reaching out to companies such as Lululemon and SoulCycle to collaborate on tasting events. Though I’m still going to be doing demos at Whole Foods, we are also trying to collaborate with companies that share similar lifestyles and have the same target market that we do. I set future dates with two Soul Cycle studios and one Lululemon store, with hopefully more to follow in the upcoming weeks.

Lastly, throughout the week, I put together a spreadsheet of media outlets and celebrities we could reach out to that share similar values as the P.S. Snack company to increase our exposure and to get more people to try our dough and spread awareness about it.

For the next 8 weeks, my main tasks will be collaborating with other brands and increasing awareness of P.S. Snacks via many channels. I’m excited for what’s to come during this internship and all the skills I will acquire!

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