Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Business Ventures: Entrepreneurship within East Lansing

September 15, 2023
MSU senior Lucas Spencer rests against the service window at University Weiner on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. University Weiner offers seven unique hot dogs, including a "Spartan Sizzler."
MSU senior Lucas Spencer rests against the service window at University Weiner on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. University Weiner offers seven unique hot dogs, including a "Spartan Sizzler."

With new business ideas coming from local students and growing businesses, East Lansing's entrepreneurship is teeming with talent.

University Weiner

First up, we have East Lansing’s newest addition to foodie culture: University Weiner.

Founded by supply chain management senior Ben Pikus and psychology senior Louis Azor, this food spot may very well be the hot dog capital of East Lansing itself.

Opening its doors on Aug. 19, the business is the newest addition to Grand River

University Weiner will have online ordering through Toast, with similar convenience as other headlining food ordering apps.

Azor, also founder of More Than Vintage, hosted the third annual Vintage Fest this past August. This thrift festival showcases vendors from across Michigan, along with assortments of food trucks and a live DJ.

Amadore Water

Within our era of Hydro Flasks and all things hydration, Amadore Water, founded Oct. 25, 2021, has made its way not only on MSU’s campus, but the surroundings that encompass it.

Roland Troutman, CEO of Amadore Water, broke down his journey of self-discovery and entrepreneurship through founding the company

“It was a 13-year plan," Troutman said. "I decided to come up with the idea of owning a beverage company,  something unique and something different. Once we opened, I realized that we needed to give back to a worthy cause.”

Amadore Water donates 10% of its proceeds to mental health resources. Troutman emphasized the importance of assisting those who struggle with mental health through the charitable efforts of his company.

While Amadore Water was partnering with Listening Ear Crisis Prevention Center, Troutman wanted more outreach that simply a hotline. Now, the water company partners with healingwithkatie.com, founded by Katie Anderson, a mental health life coach and therapist.

Not only has Amadore Water grown within the mental health community, but also within countless stores around campus, the metro Detroit area and other states.

Amadore Water is now in a total of 84 stores spread out over four states. In East Lansing, Amadore Water is at Tom's Party Store on Grand River and Fresh Thyme on Trowbridge.

"They are a major supporter for the Spartans, and so are we, and that's why we felt that it was significant that our product be in Fresh Thyme," Troutman said

As far as water, this business bottles natural spring and alkaline from the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia while also incorporating environmentally-friendly packaging. They offer the alkaline water in a fully recyclable or reusable aluminum bottle. 

Amadore Water has also entered the soda game with many select flavors to choose from: Bangin’ strawberry, Wild Apple Mania, Blue Raspberry, Rappin’ Root Beer, Dancin’ Vanilla Cream and Delightful Grape.

Troutman hopes to bring out Ginger Beer flavor soon

As a rapidly growing business, Troutman hopes to reach his long-term goal of opening a charter school with mental health therapists, providing resources to the students whenever needed.

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The Media Industry 

There have also been notable other MSU students who’ve created a brand for themselves, turning their hobbies and niches into business proposals

Marketing junior Carter Louisell runs his own filmmaking business, creating films for a select number of well-known companies.

“The reason I got into this business was my love for cameras and technology," Louiselle said. "I always had a passion for those two things. Then, freshman year of high school, I took a broadcasting class that solidified my love for making films and the process that it takes. From then on, I have continuously been upgrading my skill and passion for the craft and where it takes me.” 

He’s been making short films and projects as a hobby for around eight years. Moreover, Louisell’s filmmaking business started about four years ago.

Some of the companies Louisell has worked for includes Chevrolet, GMC, Taproot Pictures, Michigan State Basketball, Spartan Visions, Owen Ames Kimball, Spectrum Health, Faith Hospice and Holland Home.

Mebblet

Also majoring in marketing, junior Megan Rabaut runs a jewelry business online: Mebblet, catering to reusing and recycling old pieces, crafting new designs and styles on them

“I’ve had this business for about four years now, approaching five, but basically I upcycle jewelry, like old pieces into new pieces," Rabaut said. "It's kind of like a sustainability thing."

Rabaut has been mainly selling products on e-commerce websites such as Instagram and Student Made at MSU. 

"It's handmade, affordable, sustainable jewelry," Rabaut said.

Like Louisell, her business started with a hobby and passion for accessories and fashion.

“I really enjoy accessorizing and fashion, I'm on the fashion magazine at MSU for photography, so I would make myself jewelry items that I wouldn't find online,” Rabaut said. "I would just make it for myself and I started to make them for my friends and family as gifts. And then, it kind of turned into me selling them online.” 

East Lansing has seen a surge in entrepreneurs around MSU’s campus and within the community. Students and dreamers alike, this city is a foundation for those who wish to build upon it: metaphorically and literally.

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