There weren’t any rocks in the road for Harry Mardirossian—just some nuts and a handful of dried fruit. The junior marketing communication major hatched a small make-your-own trail mix company through Emerson Launch this semester, turning the phrase “mixed bag” into a sweet, simple snack.
Formerly known as Small Batch, this name-pending snack company serves up some protein and profit.
Emerson Launch is a free two-year non-credit program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs at the college propel their ideas. Whether for a business like Small Batch or a non-profit organization, applicants must deliver their pitches professionally and eloquently, all the while persuading advisers to consider their idea.
Mardirossian’s product, currently being sold to classmates and other Boston residents, comes in four varieties all geared toward energizing at different times of the day, he said. For instance, “The Midnight Snack,” Mardirossian’s favorite flavor, is ideal for a late-night study session. With cinnamon almonds, M&Ms, banana chips, dried cherries, and peanuts, this mix is sweet and salty. He stresses, however, that buyers are not limited to the four flavors. Customers can also pick the ingredients they want, Mardirossian said, and he will make a custom mix.
Rebecca Roland, a sophomore marketing communication major, said she loves her classmate’s product.
“My favorite is definitely the cinnamon-roasted almonds, dried cherries, and dark chocolate mix,” she said.
Mardirossian’s snack idea was one he had thought of a while ago.
“I used to make my own trail mix in high school,” he said. “People started asking me to make it, and that they’d pay for it if they could.”
The idea laid dormant until further into his marketing communication career. In fact, the businessman said he did not even have an interest in it until after an entire semester as a writing, literature, and publishing major. Mardirossian said he realized WLP was not right for him and marketing communication would be a better fit as the second half of his first year at Emerson began.
Mardirossian said his friends persuaded him to apply to Emerson Launch, formerly the Emerson Accelerator, last spring after hearing about his trail mix-making days and his concept for a small business. His longtime idea began its evolution into reality when he impressed advisers with his pitch. Mardirossian said he did not expect to be admitted into the program, due to its competitive nature.
According to the Emerson Launch website, student teams receive an average of $2000 per semester to invest in their ideas based on the scope of their project, which Mardirossian said helped him tremendously with buying ingredients and other supplies like bags.
For the time being, Mardirossian said, he personally delivers samples of his handmade product to other Emerson students. He described the delivery process as his biggest struggle.
“Everyone’s got such wild schedules so I have to kind of coordinate with every individual person,” he said. “When it gets to 60 people [per day] it becomes kind of a nightmare.”
His clientele, however, may change in the near future. Mardirossian said he initially intended to market his product to health-conscious college students like himself. He planned on using only the finest organic ingredients, but said he recently broadened his horizons to include things like M&Ms in his mixes to accommodate students who may not be as nutrition savvy.
To make what he sees as a substantial profit, Mardirossian said, he calculated that each bag should cost around $8. The bags are currently being sold for $10 specialty and $11 customized, but he said he might lower the price. He said he is aiming for people aged 24 and up, explaining that college students likely would not be as willing to pay as much for a gourmet snack.
Roland, however, said that Mardirossian should stick to the college demographic.
“So many college kids have all these junk food options around them, and Small Batch provides an easy, healthy option that's so convenient just to keep around and snack on throughout the day and during the afternoon,” she said.
Knowing that everyone likes different things, Mardirossian said he envisions an interactive trail mix website where buyers can compile the ingredients they want and order a customized snack if the four original flavors do not suffice.
“It has to be fun but stupid easy to use,” he said.
Freshman visual and media arts major Christopher Black found the currently used google doc order form easy to use.
“[The form] was super smooth, super simple to use,” Black said. “The service was fantastic.”
Mardirossian said he hopes his business will grow into something bigger, or at least help him springboard into other marketing jobs. Roland has high hopes for Mardirossian’s company.
“I could definitely see this being very successful and very big,” Roland said. “Harry’s a really smart guy and is super charismatic.”