Student businesses bring condoms, soaps, music to campus

Photo by Reid Bruner

Expect your pockets to feel a little lighter, Butler. The Real Business Experience  projects have firmly established themselves on campus.

RBE is a program for sophomore business students.

Students form teams, think up a business idea and then attempt to market it to the campus community or wider, depending on the product.

Businesses this year are many and varied, from managing a rock group to selling environmentally friendly laundry soap to setting up a hygiene product vending machine just outside C-Club.

Kegan Saajasto, a sophomore management information systems and finance major, is part of the group that implemented the vending machine.

“As a freshman, it was just an unmet need,” he said, referring to having easily accessible products such as condoms, toothpaste and shampoo. “The bookstore sells some stuff, but it’s super expensive, and the hours aren’t always convenient. Also, many freshmen don’t have cars to go buy it elsewhere.”

The vending machine has a collection of condoms, mouthwash, toothpaste and brushes, chapstick, floss, shampoo, vaseline and hand lotion.

Saajasto said condoms are by far the most popular. The price range is 50 cents to $4.

He said the business has had a positive reaction, but his group is not as well known as it would like to be.

“We’re facing more setbacks than anticipated,” Saajasto said.

However, the group already has several new promotional ideas, including putting stickers on some of the items and giving the winners Starbucks gift cards.

Robert Beckett’s group took a different route—they’re selling EnviroNuts, an all-natural organic laundry soap.

The soap is made from shells of nuts that grow in India, and four or five are placed in a small cotton bag, which is then put in the washing machine.

Beyond that, however, Beckett said the soap also helps to break down the buildup that chemical laundry detergent causes. The product is USDA certified organic.

Beckett said he found the idea online when searching for business ideas and thought it was really creative.

Beyond just Butler’s campus, the group has sold its product to Good Earth, a natural food store located in Broad Ripple, although it was turned down at many other stores.

“We’ve learned how to hear no,” Beckett said. “The whole process has really made us think outside the box in how to market and sell the product.”

Beckett said his group has already gone past the break-even point and is continuing to think of new ways to sell, including using Beckett’s  fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.

Members of his fraternity will take order forms and make a slight profit on how much they manage to sell. The group hopes to reach a larger audience this way.

“It’s essentially the same idea of selling Girl Scout cookies,” Beckett said.

While both groups said the program has been a lot of work, they said it was worth it for the experience they’re receiving.

“It taught us that business isn’t easy, however cheesy that sounds,” Saajasto said.

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