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Student-run business expands in less than a year

November 2, 2017
<p>From left to right, chemical engineering senior Abdullah Mohamed, elementary education senior Bethany Kogut, accounting freshman Jake Standerfer, and environmental studies &amp; sustainability senior Alex Marx pose for a picture on Nov. 1 at Bailey Hall. PHOTO: Carly Geraci</p>

From left to right, chemical engineering senior Abdullah Mohamed, elementary education senior Bethany Kogut, accounting freshman Jake Standerfer, and environmental studies & sustainability senior Alex Marx pose for a picture on Nov. 1 at Bailey Hall. PHOTO: Carly Geraci

In April, The State News talked to the student-run business Land Grant Goods, a company established through MSU’s Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE based out of Bailey Hall, about its business. Part of their products come from the Bailey Hall greenhouse itself.

Land Grant Goods makes herbal tea and sells them on its website in addition to about a dozen vendors. They originally sold their herbal tea at the Kellogg Center until they were noticed by the Eli Broad College of Business and the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation who began to work with them.

Co-CEOs Bethany Kogut, majoring in elementary education, and Alex Marx, a junior majoring in environmental studies and sustainability with a minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation, started the business in early 2017. CTO Abdullah Mohammed, senior chemical engineering major, hopped on board in the summer, after State News last talked to Land Grant Goods in April.

“This summer I was going out of the country and we knew that Alex couldn’t just do this on his own, so we brought Abdullah on because he had the skill set of working with RISE before, and also working with Alex and I,” Kogut said. “We all knew each other, so we knew we had good chemistry to make this business work. At the same time, he also had the skills of working in the Greenhouse and working with Land Grant Goods in the past so that he could continue to work with us simply, I guess. There wasn’t a very large learning gap. So he could just jump right in. And it worked out great.”

“Abdullah is a very unique individual. You can’t find someone quite as able to adapt and help make things flow,” Marx said. “He’s a very bright mind in terms of technology, in terms of business, in terms of science, even. He’s studying chemical engineering, and it’s funny how he excels at things so well such as Land Grant Goods”

Land Grant Goods is less than a year old, but they have made leaps and bounds since their inception. It continues to work to becoming more and more of a legitimate business. This year, it have 14 first year interns gaining experiential education.

They have interns for several aspects of the business, providing a variety of resume-building jobs.

“The interns are getting first hand experience of some of the work that we’re doing,” Kogut said. “So we have some interns that are working on our accounting, filing our receipts into our accounting system. We have a bunch of interns that are helping with production, and they’re actually processing and packaging the tea with us. And then we have a few that are doing sales work, so they’re actually going out into the markets and selling our products to people. And we also have a team that is doing product development, so they’re developing new blends and developing new products for us for the future.”

Land Grant Goods has also seen a production increase while maximizing efficiency, two things that sometimes don’t work together.

“We’ve had to problem solve over time and it has been difficult, but we’re trying to make some of our production more autonomous, so it’s not involving as many people and it’s not as time consuming,” Kogut explained. “We’re also looking at how we can minimize our input costs in terms of packaging and then also labor.”

For Marx, his solution was a bit less complex.

“I’ve been taking our interns out at 6:50 a.m. Monday through Wednesday for the last few weeks and this has really been increasing our production and allowing us to flow with this production much better,” he said. “Because these students don’t have class at 6:50 a.m. We get to get up early, get out in the fresh air at this farm and just kind of produce.”

Many upcoming events are in store for Land Grant Goods. First, they’re participating in Making it in Michigan on Nov. 7, an annual food conference run by the MSU product center to help spread awareness for their business.

Their next event they’re taking part in is at the Holiday S.T.E.M. Market at the Impression 5 Science Center on Nov. 10-11, which is a market designed to allow families to experience S.T.E.M. focused products firsthand.

Land Grant Goods is also attending an event at the Surplus Store on-campus called “Shop Everything MSU” on Nov. 30 from noon until 8 p.m. The event brings in different MSU-related vendors to showcase their products for the holiday season. It’s generally one of the MSU Surplus Store’s most popular events.

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