It all started on the first day of second block, in a class on entrepreneurship. The class, taught by Jim Parco and Steve Kaczmarek, required that students create a business model, which would be revised and tweaked over the course of the block. Seniors Zach Atchinson, Halsey Landon, Hanna Berglund, and Alex Byers and Leslie Muzzy, (both juniors), soon came up with the idea for the Mobile Munchie Machine.
You may have spotted the Mobile Munchie Machine on campus at the GlobeMed Red Dance in Cornerstone, at Ice Age, Battle of the Bands, or even the Wastement (1127 Wasatch) on a weekend. The five students, with the help of seniors Stanley Sigalov and Kai Ory, created this up-and-coming campus food option in response to the lack of convenient late-night snacks.
“I hate going and paying two-and-a-half bucks for the soggy breakfast sandwiches at 7-Eleven and I can’t eat taquitos anymore because I overdid it the first three years of college,” said Atchinson on the inspiration for their new business. “I don’t cook well. This really seemed like the solution to all those problems.”
However, the biggest challenge was turning this idea into a reality. Though the class gave them the tools to create their business model, the students did the legwork to make it happen.
Berglund explained the logistics of getting started: “We went through the whole legal process. We registered with the state, talked with Dean Edmonds, President Tiefenthaler, and Bon Appetit. From there, we put together our business model for how to find funding and started selling at campus events.”
Though the group had doubts about the reception of their idea from the administration and Bon Appetit, they have found everyone to be supportive of their endeavor.
“We were worried that the administration might be hesitant, but they’ve been nothing but accommodating to all of our needs,” Atchinson said.
“And we don’t plan to compete with Bon Appetit, but rather partner with them. We’re still in the process of building a lasting relationship,” Landon added.
The Mobile Munchie Machine, now a registered Limited Liability Company (LLC), is officially a food service on campus with hopes to expand. The group plans to enter their business in the on-campus competition “The Big Idea” this spring. If they win, they could receive as much as $50,000 to continue the development of the Mobile Munchie Machine.
“We want build a name for ourselves and gain legitimacy on campus. That way, we can buy some sort of mobile food stations, like a food cart or truck, so we can start generating real profit,” Atchinson said.
If the students can get the Mobile Munchie Machine on wheels, they have high hopes for the future.
“One of our first goals was to try and do something for breakfast,” Landon said. “In the morning, lines for Colorado Coffee are long. We could make eggs, and the ingredients for our sandwiches already have a lot of overlap with breakfast sandwiches.”
“Plus, we could park ourselves in a more central spot so people don’t have to walk all the way to Worner to get coffee,” added Berglund, who hopes to expand the menu with gyros.
Even without the cart, the Mobile Munchie Machine is still doing pretty well.
“We definitely break even or make a small profit each night,” Landon said. “The small profit is because we don’t have the resources yet to store a lot of food. We go to the grocery the day of and buy what we can and cook what we can.”
But plans are being made to make the Mobile Munchie Machine more CC-friendly. Though they already take cash and credit cards, they are working to get a Gold Card machine that will accept Tiger Bucks and sell five- or ten-sandwich punch cards in Worner.
With Byers and Muzzy to take over after the other project members’ graduation, they all have high hopes in the continuation and expansion of their project.
“Hopefully, they’ll be able to find a team that will pick up the reins and keep building this business once we all graduate,” Atchinson said.
“Our long-term business plan is to expand onto other colleges, specifically in Colorado. UCCS could be our first expansion, but eventually other small schools nationwide,” Landon said.
If you see the Mobile Munchie Machine at a late-night event, Berglund recommends you satisfy your late-night cravings with the Tiger Pit, a mozzarella, tomato, and basil pesto sandwich, or the Palmer Patty Slammer, which is an angus patty with Swiss cheese and caramelized onion. However, if you can’t wait to get your fix, you can also check out their menu and see where they’ll be next at: http://www.facebook.com/TheMobileMunchieMachine.