Happy Dollars and Announcements
- Marlene Evenson placed thank you notes at each table from third graders and teachers at Sheridan Hills, STEM, and Partnership Academy. After five years heading up the project, she thanked Pam Serdar who has volunteered to take over the Dictionary Project next year. Pam said, "It will be easy. It's all organized!” (See Rotary in Service story to read excerpts from teacher and student thank you letters.)
- Several Rotarians announced upcoming travels: President Anthony to Maine (January 17-30); Marlene on a cruise to the Panama Canal (January); Jean and Denny Fox to the California coast (February and March); and Barb and John Devlin (mid-February to mid-March). Happy travels, all, and don't forget all your Rotarian friends back in Richfield!
- Anthony thanked President-Elect Chip Groth for being willing to fill in for him during his upcoming absence.
Program: Jack Anderson - "Salsa for a Cause"
Jack Anderson is a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter MN, majoring in business management and political science, and serving as president of GAC General Benefit Corporation, which sells Doc E. Salsa to raise money to support safe water in Africa.
Jack came up with the idea of forming a business while in college after participating in “three unsatisfying internships” in which he “didn't have an opportunity to make significant decisions.” Jack, two other students, and their “absent-minded professor, Doc E.” formed GAC General Benefit Corporation with two purposes: (1) to provide experiential business education to GAC students; and (2) to dedicate corporate profits toward a worthy cause. The students decided to focus on fresh, safe water, in partnership with a small non-profit, Water to Thrive” that builds wells in Africa.
The group then had to decide what product to sell. Doc E. mentioned that he had been producing salsa on his own and selling it at farmers' markets, and offered to give Jack the recipe if he wanted to sell the product on a larger scale. With the help of “angel investors” on and off campus, the product was developed (scaling up the recipe), and a sales and marketing plan was developed and executed, with adjustments along the way in response to unforeseen opportunities and challenges.
Doc E. Salsa got into grocery stores in March 2015, including selected Twin Cities area Lunds and Byerlies stores. Jack observed, “Sales have gone well, although capital is always lean.”
Jack continued, “A big turning point for the business was the holiday season, when company from Washington DC contacted them to ask for 300 gift packages of their salsa.” The baskets were made and ready to send when the order was cancelled. “It was a bleak situation, and we were very worried about company finances.”
In response, the corporation decided to try to sell the packages online. Their goal was to sell 450 baskets; they built a website, started a social media campaign, and pushed for press coverage. Their big break was when Jason DeRusha interviewed Jack on radio, followed by a TV appearance, and when Lunds / Byerlies agreed to stock gift baskets at an expanded number of locations over the holidays. In all, the corporation sold 465 gift baskets, enough to fund the construction of a well in Ethiopia.
Jack isn’t sure what will happen to the business after he graduates. “I hope new students will take it over,” both to get direct experience in business, and to be part of “the new age of social entrepreneurship.”
Following the meeting, Jean Fox accompanied Jack to Lakewinds Coop, in hopes of landing yet another site for their “salsa with a cause!”