Sometimes the best ideas strike unexpectedly. They can happen while eating breakfast, on the commute to work, or even in the shower.
“I came up with the idea because I woke up late for class and I knew I had to shower,” Sterling Heights junior Mark Faria said. “As I was standing in the shower, I was thinking, ‘I’m so hungry but I can’t eat (or I’ll be late for class),’ and then I thought, ‘What if, on the way to class you had a stand that sold you apples and fruits?”
From there, an idea was born.
Faria and his business-savvy roommate, Commerce Township senior Greg King, have been working on the idea of opening up fruit stands on campus, where, on their walks to class – late or not – students can grab a fresh, cheap bite to eat.
Faria said his idea is something that will offer students a variety of inexpensive options.
“It will be called ‘CMU Fruits,’ and there are going to be stands set up throughout campus that will allow students the opportunity to buy apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelon – just fruit, and it will be two fruits for $1,” Faria said.
Ever since the idea was formed, the two business partners have been serious about going forward with their plan; so much so that the morning Faria thought of the idea, the men went out on campus and got student reactions about their potential business.
“We went around campus and we asked people if they would be interested in this idea, and if they said yes, we had them write down their name and the fruit they would want the most,” Faria said.
King said he was surprised by how many people were willing to stop and talk with them, despite the fact that many were in a hurry.
“We got really good responses from everyone we talked to. We talked to them for about 15 seconds, explaining our idea and whether they would be for it,” he said. “There weren’t even people who didn’t want to write their names, even though they were busy going to class.”
After the traffic of two class periods had passed through campus, the CMU student body had spoken loud and clear. They want “CMU Fruits.”
Oxford sophomore Carrie Stoffel was enthusiastic about the idea and was willing to show her full support.
“I support this idea 100 percent; it’s a great quick and healthy snack for students who are going to and from classes,” she said. “They have a great idea, especially since everyone is on a health kick lately. This is a good thing for CMU, and I think we should welcome the fruit stand to campus.”
Faria and King stressed the importance of two things as they continue with this business venture: The fruit has to be purchased locally and the stands must be student-run, student-funded and student-managed in order to keep this project close to the student body.
“We really want it to be locally-bought fruit. We want to go out and profit smaller businesses around the area, and when students know it’s local, that’s more of an incentive,” King said. “We’re really not trying to make a bunch of money off of this, we just thought it was a cool idea.”
So, how do the two plan to jump-start this idea?
The duo wants to seek assistance from the New Venture Competition and hopes to use it to obtain start-up funds.
“There’s the New Venture Competition that (is done) every year. We haven’t gone through the university yet, so we don’t know the logistics of whether we can do it, but I know if we go through the competition, it will give us experience on organizing a business,” King said.
From there, the business duo has large plans.
“We’re going to start here. Once that expands enough and gets big enough, we’re going to start extending it out through colleges in Michigan,” Faria said. “So, Michigan State would get one called ‘MSU Fruits,’ Western, Oakland, University of Michigan – all the major colleges. At that point we’d really try to expand and go national with it if it snowballs that big.”
The business partners plan to approach CMU to obtain any permits or permission they might need to sell on campus.
The tag team is excited for the launch of this project and the potential benefits it will offer the community.
“What’s nice about this (project) is you’re teaching business through something other than a classroom,” Faria said.