Juniors launch "My Fresh Maine"
This image, featured on "My Fresh Maine's" website, describes the process by which products are distributed in Maine.
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“The idea just popped into my head,” My Fresh Maine Co-Founder Danny Garin ’13 said. “Why should people have to travel to Maine to eat Maine produce, Maine jams or Maine syrups?”
According to Co-Founder Marcus Josefsson ’13, My Fresh Maine is “a store without bricks and mortar.” Customers can shop the online farmers’ market and place orders with any of the participating vendors. Shipments are usually delivered the next day, providing a convenient way to acquire freshly produced artisan goods.
The duo came up with the idea this past February in the Treworgy lounge. “The truth is that I probably watched The Social Network one too many times with Marcus right around the time that the Entrepreneurial Alliance at Colby was starting up,” Garin said.
They eventually realized that there was a need for a way to buy fresh foods online that would be simple for both the customer and the farmer. “A farmer that’s already spending 16 to 18 hours in the fields doesn’t have time to manage their web presence,” Josefsson said.
The duo recruited their third partner, Noah VanValkenburg ’13, who offered his web skills to the start-up process, and entered the College’s Entrepreneurial Alliance competition, where they won a $10,000 grant to make My Fresh Maine a reality.
According to Josefsson, the Alliance was instrumental in developing the idea. “We did a bunch of workshops and presentations on everything you could think of with starting a business and writing a business plan,” he said. For the trio, guidance from Roger Woolsey and Erica Humphrey in the Career Center and Mark Johnson ’96 has been invaluable to the process of launching and managing the site.
The idea behind the concept is simplicity: “A customer orders from our website, and we send the purchase order to the farmer or artisan, who then packages the good from their proprietary location and ships it out from there,” Garin said. “We ensure that the process is as easy as it can be for the farmer or artisan by providing packaging materials, instructions for packaging and shipping labels.”
Since the launch this past June, the website has partnered with around 12 vendors and will add 15 more in the next two weeks. While the co-founders haven’t purchased advertising, the site has been featured on Living Social and Groupon, where they sold almost 300 coupons to be redeemed on the website.
But running a successful company while balancing schoolwork can be difficult. “I definitely sleep less than I would if I didn’t have it,” Josefsson said. But according to Garin, the support from the College and from the Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network makes the undertaking “not as hard as it is at [a larger school] where you’re really on your own and there’s very little support.”
The co-founders hope to expand the company within Maine in the near future. “Right now we are focusing on Maine—there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people that we could sell products for just in Maine,” Josefsson said. The site attracts customers from other states, as it ships products to places as far as New York City.
In the long run, though, the partners hope to expand to other states. “One of the reasons we are so excited about the business model is that it is very scalable,” Garin said. “We want to take advantage of the notion that each region has a specialty product: My Fresh California, My Fresh Florida, etc.”