With a prize-winning idea and start-up cash, Danny Garin '13, Marcus Josefsson '13, and Noah VanValkenburg '13, the team behind My Fresh Maine
, LCC, have shown that they can grow a thriving business.
The trio started My Fresh Maine last year as an online business that links Maine farmers and artisans with consumers across New England. By providing online marketing, their company handles small-business logistics so that the only responsibility for vendors is to package products and send them to the customer, they say. And so far, that model has worked.
"It's definitely picked up a lot [since we began]," said Josefsson, "especially since we've been able to prove that we can generate sales."
The company recently offered a successful Groupon in Portland, Maine, that sold more than 220 separate products, and it plans to offer more online deals to strengthen its customer base. "It's pretty thrilling," Josefsson said. "At this point we're getting calls from people who are really interested in us—we're actually taking in revenues."
The business started at the Colby Entrepreneurial Alliance's first-ever business competition in April. Out of nine business pitches, My Fresh Maine won the top prize—$10,000.
With more than a dozen vendors, Garin, Josefsson, and VanValkenburg have come a long way since last spring. MyFreshMaine.com now offers products from butternut squash and foccacia bread to handmade alpaca socks and healing hand cream.
"They came in and gave us a model that works for our business," said Karl Rau, owner of Good Bread in Newport, Maine. "I thought, yeah, I'll give these guys a shot." My Fresh Maine has allowed Rau's small farm and bakeshop to share its artisanal breads with customers online, a venture he had hoped to undertake when he began baking bread.
As it continues to attract more vendors and buyers, My Fresh Maine is working on a more advanced ordering system and hopes to become a long-term business.
This semester Garin is studying in the United Kingdom and VanValkenburg is studying in Jordan, leaving Josefsson to manage the company's operations from his dorm room in the fall. "This, right here, is the entire business: my cell phone and my laptop," he said with a laugh. "It's been a great learning experience, and, as cliche as it sounds, the most valuable thing is realizing that you can do it."