Nicole Bush

RISE and Land Grant Goods

Screenshot 2017-04-05 at 8.09.30 AMRISE is the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment program at Michigan State University.

According to MSU’s RISE website: “RISE may be conceptualized as an interdisciplinary living-learning community for undergraduates at Michigan State University who share a common interest in environmental sustainability.”

Students come to RISE from majors various majors. Some come from colleges that make sense right away like the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and College of Natural Science. But they also come from colleges where you have to think about the important connection a little more. Like the College of Arts & Letters and the Eli Broad College of Business.

They are also partnered with College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Natural Science and the College of Social Science.

Out the gate I’ll point out one thing that we’ve learned in Amy Haimerl’s class that has become apparent as irrefutable about successful startups: they solve a problem in a meaningful way.

As a successful startup, RISE does this.

According to their website, when they were first established in 1995, RISE sought to “provide knowledge essential for understanding the physical environment that is inhabited and influenced by humans” and to “explain the way in which direct and indirect policy making by social, economic, and political institutions affects environmental issues.”

At least that’s how they put it in the academic catalog and–I assume–it was a big part of the pitch in getting the program up, running and thriving.

But, simply put by the program’s director, Laurie Thorp, students wanted to be involved in sustainability and the environment. So the collection that has become RISE, found partners and funding and made it happen.

Thorp told us the story of RISE and how it grew so fast and became something better than she even imagined. The program inspired the university’s first student run business, Land Grant Goods, of which Thorp said she is proud. 

Students that started producing tea as an experiment have seen it become a viable product and now a full-blown business that’s expanding its line. Thorp told us they are now producing honey and that skincare/beauty care produces are to join the lineup.

RISE took advantage of social media channels and, as A Social Media Guide for Startups and Entrepreneurs put it, it “significantly accelerated the pace” a which their word-of-mouth marketing took place. Before they knew what to do they had a big customer in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on campus.

Everything led to a whirlwind of branding and marketing and to the creation of Land Grand Goods where they have created, according to How Marketing Funnels Work, a marketing funnel. They’ve figured out what their goal is and what they want visitors to to do at this stage–and they’ve created a funnel for it. It’s a simple one: they want people to sign up for their updates.

In their whirlwind they also got down to work covering the basics of branding. Based on this article on Entrepreneur it’s apparent that they have answered these questions for RISE and Land Grant Goods:

What is your company’s mission?

What are the benefits and features of your products or services?

What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?

What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

They have a great logo, they’ve begun to integrate their brand, they’re being true to their brand and telling their story in a way that resonates with their audience. And they’re developing that consistency that’s needed to create a sustainable, established brand.


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