Some Metropolitan Community College students are creating a buzz with their budding business, or should we say fizz?
Six friends from Independence, five of whom are either current MCC students or an alum, are making headlines for their success with a new soda pop, called Atomic Fizz, and they are hoping their story gets picked up by the likes of Ellen Degeneres. Soda production, which is based out of Polly’s Pop facility in Independence, started with just a few bubbles over the summer and now the group says they are reinvigorating the idea of the American dream.
One of the mottos of the Atomic Fizz partners: “Some say the American Dream is dead. We’re here to prove them wrong with this delicious Soda Pop that we think you’re gonna love.”
Mark Driscoll, marketing director for Atomic Fizz and second-year MCC student, is excited to talk about the reactions they get from the community. “People light up with they see us” he says. That’s what they are hoping. They “want to be able to have a positive influence on people.”
The drink, a tangy crème soda, was concocted in Driscoll’s home over the summer.
Here is the group of young entrepreneurs (all Truman High School 2015 alums):
- Tanner Masters, company president, current MCC-Blue River student
- Mark Driscoll, director of marketing, current MCC-Blue River student
- Sam Heacock, vice president, current Drake University student
- Mitchell Pritchard, CFO , MCC Blue-River alum (took classes last year)
- Antonio Johnson, head of inventory, current MCC-Blue River student
- Shawn Armour, partner, current MCC-Blue River student
Things took off after Atomic Fizz was featured at the Blue Springs Fall Fun Fest in mid-September and now customers can find the soda on sale at the All Things Independence store and several local bars and restaurants.
Driscoll says they want their success to be more than about money, hoping “they could be an outlet to reach the rest of the world and hopefully inspire people.”
“The 6 of us, born and raised in the USA, all Truman High School (home of the Patriots!) Graduates, and all proud to be Americans. We have been told our entire life that The American Dream is dead. And instead of being discouraged by all the naysayers, we were determined to prove them wrong. This soda pop is a product of our American Dream. It is tangible proof that The American Dream is not dead. And that if 6 broke College students can start a successful and profitable company on a whim? Then not only is The American Dream alive and well, but ANYONE can achieve it! So when you see Old Glory on our caps, let it serve as a reminder that we live in America, the land of the free, the home of the brave, where success is obtainable by anyone through hard work, and determination.
How do the guys balance a booming business and school?
“This whole thing has been absolutely insane,” says Driscoll. He is full-time at MCC five days a week (graduating in the spring with his associate’s in art and teaching) and then as soon as he leaves the Blue River campus, it’s straight to the office. “Any down time I have, I am using to better the company or do school stuff.”
Driscoll says faculty are helping. He says Dee Mathison, his speech teacher last semester, allowed him to have other students taste their soda and they got some great feedback. Mathison has been “ridiculously supportive,” advising them that they have “real potential.” Family and friends lifting you up are to be expected, says Driscoll, but when someone like Mathison is “telling you that you are going to go far, going to be great, that just means so much more.”
The group’s story has already been picked up by local media, including the Independence Examiner (read the article), WDAF Fox4 (watch the story) and KCTV5 (watch the story). Now they are using social media to attract the likes of megastar Ellen Degeneres.
Click here for the link to the Facebook post they would like you to share and tag Ellen.
Good luck to these MCC students!