Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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UpDog Kombucha Weeks 6 and 7

Saturday, August 5, 2017 5:10 pm

Things have been super busy at UpDog, which unfortunately led me to fall behind in my posting, so I’ve combined my thoughts and experiences from the past two weeks into one blog post!

After completing the website, I turned my attention to researching how to get the kombucha nutritionally tested. Getting the product tested would a huge step because it allows us to have concrete facts and figures regarding the nutritional benefits of the kombucha to share with customers. While we know that the beverage itself is low sugar and low calorie, customers are comforted by having a specific number to associate with that. Nutrition facts would also be a great addition to our bottles as they would allow for customers to more accurately compare our products with others and be able to see the benefits that UpDog kombucha provides besides just tasting good!

I ran into a few roadblocks with my research at first, as many places do not test fermented products. Once I found a couple locations willing to service kombucha, I had to run price comparisons to see which places make the most financial sense for a small company that does not ship their product. I’m currently in the final stages of deciding which organization to test with, and hopefully we’ll be able to add an accurate nutritional label in the near future!

Besides that research, I’ve continued my rounds of deliveries to both old and new locations. I’ve learned how to think on my feet and am now comfortable enough with our product and how we sell it to troubleshoot and work with customers without having to call one of the owners to clarify what my next step should be. I’m so grateful to be working in a small environment that allows me to be so independent and to take charge on my own sales and accounts.

Entering into my last week is bittersweet to say the least. While I can’t say I’ll miss the 4:45am wake up calls on some Saturdays, I will miss being able to be a part of a rapidly expanding small business run by two women who I greatly admire. I can’t wait to see what my last week has in store!

UpDog Kombucha- Week 5

Monday, July 17, 2017 7:26 pm

After weeks of work, the new UpDog Kombucha website is finally launched! You can now check out to see the final product, learn a little more about kombucha, and purchase our merchandise. It’s been so nice to have a project that I can actually see the results of and I’m really proud of how the site turned out.

Now that this project is done, I’m turning my attention to discovering new places to sell the kombucha including expanding out towards the Raleigh/Durham area. At first I assumed we would just go out there and look around for some yoga studios, but quickly learned that a lot more thought goes into choosing locations to contact. For starters, I had to go through the different class schedules to see which studios were busier and had more offerings, as more classes means more potential consumers. After compiling a list of potential buyers, I learned the basic pitch we use for first time interactions with businesses. I now have a better handle on all the pricing, installation, and promoting that goes along with getting the kombucha into a new location!

Another valuable part of this internship has been getting to know the Winston-Salem food and beverage community a little bit better. From interactions with the other farmers at the weekly markets to conversations with local vendors and businesses during deliveries, I’ve gotten to hear bits of wisdom from a multitude of sources and learn things that I’d never even thought about before. It’s given me a great look into different ways people run their respective businesses while also letting me see parts of the city I hadn’t seen prior to this internship.

I look forward to getting to do even more my last few weeks here and hope to have good news of further expansion coming soon!

UpDog Kombucha- Week 4

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 9:47 am

One of the major components of my job is to work at farmers’ markets each Saturday morning at which I sell and promote the product to the local community, These markets have truly become an invaluable experience in terms of learning how to deal with customers, both the satisfied and the unsatisfied, and how to successfully pitch the product, especially those who have never heard of kombucha and might be reluctant to try.


Each Saturday, the UpDog team wakes up early to pack up for four different markets in Charlotte, Davidson, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro. From there everyone heads out to their respective locations to unpack and set up a booth showcasing UpDog before the first customers to the markets arrive. Now that I’ve had a few markets under my belt, I’ve started to recognize and get to know the other farmers who do the same thing each week and it’s shown me the true community that exists between these vendors who see each other week in and week out.


After setting up, tapping the kegs, and arranging the booth to look nice, I wait for the first people of the day to come up and ask for a refill, ask if our product is for dogs, or just say “what’s UpDog?” and wait for me to get the joke. These hours spent at the markets have taught me to be patient in sales and figure out how to pitch to different audiences. Some people are drawn in by the health benefits, while others have just heard it’s a trendy thing to try and want to hear about where else kombucha may be sold. Even though the questions become repetitive, it is important to answer each potential client’s question fully and clearly because at the end of the day, a lot of people are genuinely curious about what kombucha truly is.


Finding new people and locations to carry the kombucha is an important part of expanding the business and these markets are a great place to find potential buyers. Each sale helps to spread the word and the brand just a little farther and each week I get at least one person who comes up because they heard about it from a friend/cousin/colleague etc.


While the early wake ups on the weekend can be hard, working at these markets has become one of the best parts of my internship experience. It takes the skills I’ve been working on in sales, marketing, and customer service, and combines it in a fun and meaningful way, plus the free strawberries from the vendors next door don’t hurt at all.


Week 3- UpDog Kombucha

Friday, June 23, 2017 5:42 pm


With one owner out of town and one employee injured, my focus turned from web content to actual production of the kombucha. This past week and a half have shown me a completely different side of what working at a small business is like. For example, at larger companies, bottles are labeled by machines, but at a smaller organization, each bottle is individually hand wrapped. I had never thought about the detailed work that goes into every aspect at a small start up, and having the chance to actually do it has given me a much larger appreciation for all the hard work put in at companies this size.


While some tasks this week were labor intensive, they were definitely rewarding as I got to try my hand at actual brewing the kombucha I’ve been selling this summer. Being able to take part in this process has shown me exactly how true promoting our product as “small batch kombucha” and “handcrafted” as each keg and bottle is brewed right here in Winston Salem by the small number of employees. Each fruit, root, or herb used is hand washed, cut, and pureed to make our product the best it can be.


Not only has this given me an appreciation for the work put into each batch of kombucha, but it has helped me to learn even more about it, which in turn has helped me when it comes to making a sale or talking to potential customers at an event or market.


This week I was also able to work on sales, as I was given the chance to talk to a man who recently opened a coffee bar out in King, NC about carrying our product. After a series of calls, emails, and voicemails, he finally decided to give kombucha a try and placed his first (of what I hope becomes many) order! While I’ve been able to sell smaller quantities at farmers’ markets, this was my first time getting to help expand UpDog’s client base, which is growing by the day.


With the staff returning to full force next week, I do not know if my help will be as needed on the production side of things, but I hope to have the chance to do it again!


UpDog Kombucha Week 2

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 2:20 pm

The first big task I’ve been assigned to at UpDog is to redo the website. Originally we had planned for a slight remodel, but after thinking it through, we decided that restarting from scratch was the best way to make sure that all the new features we wanted to be a part of the site were included in the new site. I’d done a little bit of work with graphic design before, but I’ve never had the opportunity to work on redesigning a full site, so I was exciting to get to work on creating a new page that is both informative and aesthetically pleasing.


In my head, creating a new website would be as simple as labeling tabs and inputting information. I didn’t realize the thought and deliberation that goes into exactly what is put on there ranging from information about the product, information about the company, and answers to many frequently asked questions. All this alongside trying to make the website look clean and put together seemed a little daunting at first, but has turned into a rewarding project to work on, as I can see my project grow each day.


The section I’m tackling first is the Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQs) and in doing this, I have been able to learn even more about the business, what goes into the product, and the benefits of kombucha overall. By trying to think ahead of the customer and drawing upon questions that people at farmers’ markets typically ask me., I’ve been able to piece together what other information will be important to feature on our new site.


Overall, I’m excited with the progress we’ve made on the site so far and I can’t wait to see the final product come to life soon!


UpDog Kombucha Week 1

Monday, May 29, 2017 6:14 pm

If you’d asked me what kombucha was a year ago, I probably would’ve asked you if that was even a word in English. However, here I am spending my summer explaining exactly what it is, how it’s made, and why it’s good for you to an array of local customers at farmers’ markets each Saturday.

Spending time at these markets is just one of my jobs as a summer intern for UpDog Kombucha, a local start up selling handcrafted fermented tea, created by two former Wake students. UpDog Kombucha was started by Lauren Miller (‘17) and Olivia Wolff (‘16) in their dorm kitchens that has grown exponentially into its own thriving business with their product now on tap in locations from Greensboro, to Davidson, to Charlotte and more. Being a part of such a rapidly growing organization allows me to see many different aspects into what makes a small business run.

This summer as the intern for UpDog Kombucha, I have the opportunity to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help make the company run smoothly. My first major undertaking will be to revamp the website and its content. The goal is to add more information about kombucha and our specific brewing process, so potential customers have a better sense of what it is. Additionally, I am designing a marketplace for UpDog merchandise to be sold online. Beside website tasks, I also help run deliveries to local vendors, which is a great way to get a better sense of the local markets we have right here in Winston. Alongside deliveries, every Saturday I work at a farmers’ market to promote the kombucha and offer samples to those who might have never even heard of it before.

I’m so excited to be based in Winston-Salem this summer and to have the chance to be part of such a cool and unique start up experience and I look forward to posting more updates as I go along.


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