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By Kelsey Wagner
Eller Marketing ’13

McGuire Entrepreneurship teams took center stage at the New Venture Expo at the Southwest Regional Angel Summit in April. One of them, MistoBox, took home the prize of “Most Investable Venture.”

The MistoBox team at this year's UA Innovation Day (left to right): Collin Crowley, Samantha Meis, George Andros, and Connor Riley. Photo by Daron Shade.

The MistoBox team at this year’s UA Innovation Day (left to right): Collin Crowley, Samantha Meis, George Andros, and Connor Riley.
Photo by Daron Shade.

MistoBox is built around a subscription service that sends members four unique, hand-picked samples of micro-roasted coffee from roasters across the country each month. They get to taste and learn about each coffee, and when subscribers particularly like a sample, they can buy the full size bag of coffee from the MistoBox online store. Team member Samantha Meis sums it up: “Find your perfect cup, and in the meantime, become a coffee connoisseur.”

The sampling subscription isn’t just a class project for the team members, they plan to launch after graduation. The team includes finance manager Connor Riley, operations manager Collin Crowley, general manager Meis, and marketing manager George Andros.

“We have our specific roles, but we all work very closely with one another, taking on overlapping goals,” explained Meis. “In a startup, there are so many tasks to be completed that the founders cannot be restricted to one role.”

Because of their commitment to launch at the end of the year, the team has taken every step of the process very seriously. “First semester was filled with research and validation, so this semester we have be going full force to get our venture to a launching point,” she said. “We have taken advantage of Hearst grants in order to help us with the costs associated with building our full website, which should be up and ready to process payments within the next couple of weeks.”

MistoBox has been looking for outside investment, and got the opportunity to present in front of the Desert Angels. They also started a project on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and are well on their way to reaching their financial goal. “At this point, there are a lot of things coming together very quickly which will lead to the first set of MistoBoxes getting shipped out,” Meis said.

Team members credit the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and their mentors-in-residence with helping them get as far as they have. “The McGuire program has given me opportunities unlike any other that I’ve received while at the University of Arizona,” said Meis. “We learned how to start a company from the perspective of our angel investor mentors. They have given us constant support and advice throughout this whole process.”

Meis and the MistoBox team know the odds are stacked against new companies. “We’ve learned that being an entrepreneur is extremely risky,” she said. “Most ventures fail. But we truly believe that the McGuire Program has taught us so much that it has greatly reduced our risk going forward. We are now armed with the skills to identify opportunities and how to act on them to make them profitable.”

The McGuire Center offers entrepreneurship programs for students across the UA. Learn more now.