Magic on the shelf
Local businessman designs new cereal brand with help of FedEx Center for Entrepeneurship
Despite changes in the Egyptian government’s structure, protestors continue demonstrations in Cairo against President Hasni Mubarak’s administration Saturday. The Egyptian Army was present, though riot police were noticeably absent. MCT
Craig Rich walked into The University of Memphis' FedEx Institute of Technology last fall after stumbling upon information about the new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation online. As a new brand owner, he was in need of guidance and wanted to offer some of his own to U of M students after being inspired by a child.
Rich was on dad duty in late 2009 when he supervised his daughter as she hosted a play date with her best friend. Before the eight year old left the Rich household, she had given him a sweet idea - a cereal that had nothing but marshmallows.
"I served the girls Lucky Charms and my daughter's friend picked out all of the marshmallows and refused to eat the rest of the cereal," said Rich, creator of Magician's Cereal Marshmallows. "Her mother complained about buying boxes of cereal and having to throw them away after all the marshmallows were gone."
He started working with a manufacturer to develop the product and a graphic designer to create the packaging.
Matthew Lunn, Magician's Cereal Marshmallows package designer, said Craig was passionate about the way he wanted the design to be executed.
"I came up with drawings for the magician and we sat down and tweaked it until we got it to where he wanted it," said Lunn.
By June of 2010, the cereal was being packaged, distributed and sold in stores in and around the Memphis area including a Collierville and Cordova Walgreens, Piggly Wiggly and Stepherson's Superlo Foods. Rich also ships his cereal to England and Australia for those who place Internet orders.
"I thought 'This is so exciting,'" said Rich about seeing his product on the shelf. "It took six or seven months for all this hard work to pay off."
Lunn has tried the cereal and said he likes it even though he doesn't frequent the cereal aisle as much as he has in the past.
"I have not gone to see it in stores yet," said Lunn. "I need to go and see it. It would be cool to see it on the shelf.
Now, Rich has sights on a shelf in Wal-Mart's cereal aisle and is asking U of M students help to make his dreams come true by voting for him in the "Get on the Shelf" contest presented by Wal-Mart, which ends on April 3rd.
"Students can vote twice a day," said Rich. "They can do it once by texting 4530 to 383838 and also by going online to vote at www.getontheshelf.com/product/4530."
Rich has aligned himself with The U of M's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and been walking around campus at least once a week to hand out samples and voting information.
Kelly Penwell, program manager for the CEI, said Rich was one of the first clients they ever had.
"Rich has been very active in what we are doing here," said Penwell. "He has offered suggestions to many of the students and other clients we serve in our office."
Rich said to have his sweet and crunchy marshmallow cereal sold in every grocery and drug store in the United States would be a dream.
"I look forward to expanding beyond America someday but I have to get established in the U.S. first," said Rich.
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