Sarasota entrepreneur Andy Yochum recently mixed two staples of American life, college students and beer.
His goal: get ideas and advice on how he could sell more products.
The beer came from Boardwalk Food Co., a business Yochum founded in September 2014. Boardwalk makes a line of beer bread popper snack mixes — mini-muffins made with beer — in a variety of flavors, from cornbread to rosemary sea salt. The students came from an entrepreneurship class at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus. Boardwalk was one of three companies the class looked at for a case study on how to market new products.
Yochum told the class, in a late November presentation, about his company's biggest challenge: increasing awareness and gaining more shelf space in beer and wine stores and high-end grocers nationwide. “My products sell like wildfire, once people try it,” Yochum tells Coffee Talk. “If people can find it, they buy it.”
The class, says Yochum, came up with several ideas, mostly focusing on how to better utilize social media to create demand and buzz. That includes more frequent videos. Students also debated the value of email to connect with customers, and how to best use recipe cards to boost buzz. The students also picked up some business pointers. Specifically, Yochum says in a blog post, they learned about “the challenges of having a small company budget.”
Yochum is coming of a transitional year for Boardwalk Food. The firm switched gears on its product, going to beer bread poppers from the original plan, which was a mix of loaves for beer bread. The switch put Yochum's investment into the business well into the six figures.
Yochum has high hopes for 2016, with the switch now complete. The firm recently got into Bealls locations nationwide, and Yochum hopes to have other major chains soon. “Things are really moving along,” says Yochum. “I think it's going to be a really good year.”