In early January, PJP was given the tremendous opportunity of working with a team of MBA candidates at Mizzou's Trulaske College of Business. And the premise was really quite simple...we give the team of students a project we had in mind (but had made little progress on) and allow the students to become immersed in it over a semester and then present the findings to us at semester end. In short, it was exactly like hiring a consulting company...except it didn't cost thousands of dollars that we don't have because it was FREE. (And I know each time all the students come back to town, I'm the first curse the traffic and the long checkout lines at Target. But clearly the benefits of living in a college town are tremendous, as the opportunity we were given this semester could likely never happen to a business our size in a town not ripe with higher education institutes.) Way back at the beginning of the year, we met with our team of students. The students on our team had actually chosen PJP from a list of other participating local companies, so we felt they had at least an adequate vibe for how we operate (or they just randomly picked us because they liked pie and then 10 minutes into meeting us, they asked themselves how they had made such a mistake.) We ultimately tasked the group with getting our pie dough into local grocery stores...a solid concept that we just can't seem to push into fruition because of the time involved and a healthy serving of self-doubt on the side.
So we met with the group and talked about our vision and our long-term goals, gave them free pie, and sent the students out onto the Mizzou campus with visions of #worldpiedomination dancing in their heads. And then just last week, after a solid three months, an email arrived announcing that our findings were ready if we could meet this morning at Cornell Hall on campus. COUNT US IN.
And the results were phenomenal. The team put so much effort and thought and research into their recommendations. They gave us a written report and lead the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation covering everything from packaging the pie dough to the suggested retail pricing. And the short version of the findings is that yes, selling our pie dough in local grocery stores could be a profitable endeavor for PJP (which is what guessed, but my guess was based on intuition and not on three months research, so there's that).
What I appreciated most is that the group was able to really provide us with some action steps to take over the next few months. I honestly almost expected some esoteric high-level view of grocery supply chain inventory, but instead, we were given some solid advice and expert insight. And the team remembered from the original meeting that Jeanne and I are big idea people, often lacking the skill set to really narrow it down and execute on one particular course of action. So part of what we discussed today was a plan moving forth with an additional opportunity to participate in a fall MBA course as a Part II, The Sequel to what we can accomplish the summer. And also, the professor in charge completely appreciated all the incessant Baby Boom references I made (spoiler alert: I would NOT sell PJP to the food chain, Vermont country house or not).
Honestly, it left us both pretty fired up to get started on our goal of a PJP endcap at every Target in America. With priority checkout for the college kids, of course.