SKEMA Business School’s SKEMA Venture Club in Raleigh conducted the stimulating Brainstorming Workshop on February 20. The insightful workshop began with a talk by guest speaker Blake Stewart, CEO of Hail Mary Mix. The company manufactures an all-natural gluten-free bloody mary mix using fresh tomatoes and the “farm to bottle” concept.
Blake explained to the students how he turned his innovative concept into a full-fledged business. He spoke about how, when he started, he knew little about the food business. Nevertheless, as he went forward, he experimented and learned from his successes and failures. He shared the story of the company’s evolution from initially buying a few cases of tomatoes from farmers to now buying hundreds of cases, and moving from producing and bottling the mix himself in restaurant kitchens during their downtime to now having Hail Mary Mix produced by a commercial bottling organization.
The students were fascinated by the details of the challenges that Blake faced at each step of his entrepreneurial journey asked him various questions which ranged from “How did you negotiate prices?” to “How did you make connections for sales?” and “Where do you store the inventory?” to which he replied, his garage! Since the business has grown substantially, he joked, he has now acquired a larger garage!
Blake conducted several challenges for the participants of the Brainstorming Workshop, who were divided into small teams to brainstorm on solutions. Each team ultimately refined their answers to come up with the best solution. Each team presented their solution and a vote was taken to choose the winning team. The winners were awarded a prize and all the participants went home with a sample bottle of Hail Mary Mix. The workshop was organised by SKEMA Ventures’ proactive student leadership team.