Marshall Green loves smoothies.
But like many others he hates the cleanup and hassle involved in making one. So the SM East senior came up with a business plan to build smoothie vending machines that he could place in schools, offices, gyms, airports and elsewhere. The budding entrepreneur launched a crowd-funding effort to get the business, Fresh&Blended, started.
Green, a member of the SM East cross country and wrestling teams, came up with the idea while running.
“I really wanted a smoothie. And I was thinking about how much of a pain it would be to have to go home and make one and the mess and all that,” he said. “How great it would be if I could just go to the locker room, go upstairs and just get one.”
SM East has plenty of vending machines with healthy snacks, said Green, 17.
“It’s all just kind of pretzels and healthy chips,” he said. “I was thinking what if you could get a smoothie as easy as you could a snack out of the bag.”
Consumers are looking for healthy choices, he said.
“A lot of people like smoothies but (smoothies) are kind of a pain and unless you’re willing to drive somewhere you really can’t get them,” he said.
Green believes his vending machine would be different than anything on the market because it offers customers choices. Customers choose what type of frozen fruit or vegetable to include and then complete it with choices like juice or milk. He’s working with a manufacturer to create the machine, which includes a self-cleaning feature.
But he needs $60,000 to launch the business, build the prototype and get started. His crowd funding effort started in December and will continue through Jan. 17.
Green is committed to the project. He took the Kauffman FastTrac NewVenture course for entrepreneurs and has talked to several investors. He will speak in front of another entrepreneurial group, One Million Cups, in Springfield, Missouri this week.
His parents, who own a landscape supply business, have helped a lot with advice. He also received support from SM East Principal John McKinney, who appeared in the crowd funding video and called it “amazing idea.” Revolution Gym Owner John Brown, who has trained Green for several years, also appeared on the video and has repeatedly encouraged Green.
“He let me come in one morning and hand out smoothies to his personal clients so that I could get feedback on what they liked and disliked,” Green said about Brown.
Green, who plans to attend business school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City or the University of Kansas, said money has come in slowly during the holiday season but he’s hopeful that it will pick up this month.
In the meantime, he’s researched profit margins, sourced product costs, packaging and consumer expectations. The athlete knows he’s not the only one who wants nutritious choices.
“Everyone from students to stay-at-home moms need nutrition that is quick and accessible,” he said. “That’s what I hope my business can provide.”