Over this brisk Columbus Day weekend, my family and I escaped to the Maine woods – our treasured place to unplug, reconnect, and let the Maine outdoors do its magic. As I wake up to chilly temperatures this morning, and look out across the pond to rust oranges, muted yellows, and spiked evergreens, summer seems like a distant memory. Yet, it was just over a month ago when I greeted you all back to Babson and delighted in hearing your summer adventures; noting how you had grown and been shaped.
While summer feels like another lifetime, let’s be real, Labor Day weekend was just six weeks ago! Mid-October is the perfect time to think back to summer, reconnect with contacts, and revisit your goals. One of my summer’s highlights was taking time to explore Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. One such adventure was MassChallenge’s StartUp Showcase, where I connected with Start Ups like New Valence Robotics, Edtrips, Libboo, Litter One, and Zoos Greek Iced Tea. I asked Jordi Batler ’17 to join me in the endeavor of reflecting back and to share her summer start up experience at Zoos Greek Iced Tea with us. I am delighted to share her story with you here:
My Summer StartUp Experience by Jodi Batler ‘17
This summer I was fortunate to get an internship with a small local startup called ZOOS Greek Iced Tea. In February, I attended a business competition in Boston, where ZOOS was one of the teams pitching. ZOOS is an iced tea made with tea leaves from the mountains of Northern Greece—Kristina Tsipouras, Zoos Founder, began the company after spending her summers there with her grandparents. During one of those visits, she realized her grandmothers’ healthy tea wasn’t available anywhere commercially in America, and decided to start ZOOS. By coincidence, I had also spent some of my summers in Greece visiting my own grandmother. Since we had something in common, I started a
conversation with Kristina, and out of that interaction, secured an internship in April. After finishing summer classes, I began working for ZOOS full time at their small office space at Mass Challenge, the world’s largest startup incubator. Once I began working at ZOOS I was unaware of how much I would learn and accomplish in one summer.
One of the best parts about working for a young startup is being able to be a part of a company that is growing and changing daily. When I started officially working for ZOOS in May, the product had started shipping to stores following the first production launch in March. The ZOOS team was made up of the CEO Niari Kevarian M’12, the founder Kristina Tsipouras, another intern from Northeastern, and a few mentors on the side. By the end of the summer, ZOOS was in 150 stores around MA and NH. The team expanded to 10 people and ZOOS gained a board of mentors from Mass challenge.
One of my favorite things about working for ZOOS was the flexibility and open culture. During the two months I worked full time, we had no set schedule, but a different task and problem needing a solution each day. The greatest part about working for such a small startup was the impact I was able to have on the company. I did 18 sampling demonstrations in 3 months, and created a program so we could keep track of customers and what flavor was the most popular. I was able to go with the distributor to stores on the Cape and open accounts. I helped ZOOS participate in several events including a skate park opening, mass challenge gatherings, and food events. Each day brought a new opportunity to learn and help the company grow. By the end of the summer, I had gained experience in advertising, marketing, sales, and some finance. Being able to work on different projects and assignments made my time with ZOOS more impactful, overall it was an amazing learning experience. Coming out of freshman year, I was able to apply what I learned both in an out of the classroom. By the end, I realized my passion was to be in marketing for a consumer goods company. Now that the fall semester has started I continue to work for ZOOS, and I encourage my classmates to work for a startup, because you gain amazing hands on experience and knowledge.