2022 Michigan Business Challenge Spotlight – Seconds Labs

Shannon Beeman
February 10, 2022

MBC Seigle Impact Track Spotlight

The Michigan Business Challenge takes participants through the entire cycle of new venture creation from creating a strong pitch to conducting a marketing and financial assessment and writing a comprehensive business plan. Teams of students are one step closer to over $100,000 in cash prizes. Meet these innovative Wolverines in our spotlight series.

Startup Description

Michigan Business Challenge 2022 Seconds LabsSeconds Labs is a direct consumer business that sells beverage mixes to health-conscious individuals. Our products are “nootropics” which improve cognitive performance and promote holistic brain health, and they leverage underappreciated hero ingredient currently going to waste: the fruit surrounding coffee beans, known as “cascara” in the coffee industry. Austin Clowes (MBA ’22), Claire Bissa (MBA ’22), and Matthew Baker (MBA ’22).

What was the origin of this venture? How was the problem or opportunity discovered?

Austin Clowes first encountered the problem while working as a food waste expert at a top environmental think-tank. He was researching food supply chains in Mexico and was appalled at both the massive amount of waste from coffee farming and the unfair compensation of farmers.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of launching your venture?

We hope to transform the coffee industry for the better. We hope to normalize higher pay for farming communities and reduce the environmental impacts of coffee production. We hope to help consumers achieve more balance in their lives and to reclaim their focus.

How did you form your team?

Our team converged over common interests in Professor Jim Price’s “Entrepreneurship: New Venture Creation” course in the Weekend MBA Program. The team all had a strong desire to build a purpose-driven business focused around a triple bottom line.

How has participation in MBC helped move your venture forward?

MBC has helped us refine our value proposition and has accelerated our plans for product development. The experience has helped further define our go to market strategy and has helped us reconsider how we plan to assess impact. The resource ecosystem around MBC will continue to help us in the coming months.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the MBC experience (so far)?

The MBC experience has drilled home the importance of a refined story with a strong and specific value proposition. Know your exact message and say it directly.

What are your plans following MBC? How would prize money help your venture?

We plan to continue our product development and target a Q4 product launch. The prize money would help us develop key branding and marketing assets for our go-to-market.

What advice do you have for other student entrepreneurs?

Get your feet wet! Use the resources provided through your organization, and work with people you enjoy!