Student Spotlight - Dean's Comp 2019 Winners
Written by: Steven Prysunka
Photographed by: Levi Soprovich
As seen in the January 2020 issue of Lazy Faire magazine.
We Interviewed the winning Bus 201 Dean’s Comp team: Rami El-Khatib, Devan Boytinck, William Ho, and Crystal Langat about their sustainable, online grocery delivery business Melio.
Tell us about your idea!
Ordering groceries online and picking them up with a drive-up option. We really wanted to get into the ethical sourcing and environmental aspect of it. Traditionally, the grocery store experience is ancient and our friends in Europe have been redesigning the experience for the past 30 years in new and innovative ways, so bridging these ideas is how we got to our idea.
What did you learn along the way?
The work ethic behind it was big. It wasn't easy and it would've been great to have more time to polish it more. I think we would do this again, right guys? (Yes, yes they would)
Did you have any other ideas?
Originally we weren't specifically organic, but as we went on the idea of ethical consumption developed, as well as the warehouse and how we can avoid wastage. But the drive-thru was always a part of it. We looked at Amazon and how all purchases are online, so why don't we do the same with groceries and modernize the experience? The organics help put us in a niche because grocery stores already have so much competition and the organics fit our theme.
What got you to decide on this idea?
I don't know, we were just brainstorming and when we got to this idea we were like, 'this is it". We had way different ideas in our initial brainstorm, but we sat down and took all the common ideas and were able to reach this and it kept building from there.
How did you feel, being done BUS 201, sitting in Dewey's having a drink, celebrating being done and then getting the call that you're being called up to dean's comp?
I mean, what can you do about it right? It’s an honor and a really, really great opportunity for us to be here, with very esteemed judges. We really appreciate that. We didn't look at it as "aw, we have more work now", we looked at it is “we have this much time until then, how can we polish it up, how can we grind it out and put out the best content.”
What do you want readers to know about the experience?
The biggest thing is if people have a passion, go for it. If you see the one opportunity that you have passion for, see how far you can go with it.
Any tips for team work?
Don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off each other and don’t shut others' ideas down. That's why we worked together as well as we did. If there was an idea someone else didn't like, we phrased it in a way that was encouraging rather than telling them “that sucks”. Elaborate on each others’ ideas. We thought in the same direction so we all kept moving forward; it was nice.
What set you apart?
One concept of our idea was inventory management and the way we tried to use data for inventory management. Not only are we providing a new service to Edmonton, but just the concept of how to do business. Times are changing, everyone has the internet, so why can't we have a warehouse for the goods and order online? There were so many more value points we could hit and that's the way the world is shaping right now. If you look at Europe, there are other places doing something similar.
What new issues and trends did you want to capitalize on for your idea?
When we saw that nonprofit businesses were allowed this year, we saw that as an opportunity to take our business in an environmental direction. Everyone's realizing how important sustainability is. The common thread in many of the presentations were hitting that environmental and sustainability [theme].
Any other thoughts?
I was helped a lot not only by our coaches Evan and Emily but everyone else. We met over coffee and we were able to bounce ideas off them. A lot of our ability to reach first place came through the people that helped us. Take help where you can get and don't be afraid to ask questions. There are so many people who are there to help and mentor you.