When life gives students lemons, they make sweet discoveries

Young entrepreneurs explore small business ventures on campus with lemonade stands

| Author: Kyle Walker | Media Contact: Jessica Meyers

On Thursday, Sept. 17th entrepreneurship faculty member, Julie Messing, challenged her ENT 200 class to launch some of their very first business ventures on campus. The lemonade stand project allowed students to gain hands-on experience in the planning and launching of a new venture.

Groups of 4-5 students developed lemonade stands and offered their products for one class period. Each group was responsible for purchasing supplies, establishing a location, managing a budget, producing their products, and creating a unique offer to gain an edge over market competitors.

Students were unknowingly evaluated by “mystery shoppers.” These shoppers were CMU faculty, staff, and students who shared feedback on their experience at multiple stands. They evaluated the product quality, price: quality value, enthusiasm, and aesthetics. The results from the shoppers were used to gain insight into what customers value and how customers perceived each stand.

Senior Jennifer Zainea, a purchasing and supply management major and one of the project’s “mystery shoppers,” said, “It was an interesting experience to see students incorporating their ideas, with a limited budget and resources, into their venture projects.”

Students offered products to differentiate themselves from the competition including frozen lemonade, sparkling/carbonated lemonade, lemonade paired with candy, and even a donation-based stand.

“As we progress in the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, we are drawing from their experience with the Lemonade exercise as we cover new entrepreneurship principles,” explained Messing. “It was a hit with the students, and we are exploring a “Part 2” later in the semester, allowing us to compare the decision process and results.”
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