LSC ASSISTS YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR. Kent’s is a soda with a story. The new line of beverages is the brain child of 9-year old Kent Melville of St. Johnsbury, Vt., who started the business to help autistic children like himself. The fledgling business is poised to take off after a feature on the Huffington Post, one of the nation’s top news blogs, netted 3.5 million hits on kentssoda.com. Now orders are coming in from as far away as Malaysia.
Lyndon State College’s Incubator Without Walls (IWoW) took Kent’s Soda as a client in November 2010. Lauren Turmel ‘11, working under the supervision of Associate Professor of Visual Arts Barclay Tucker, designed the label for the soda to promote the charitable cause and reflect Kent’s brand image. Assistant Business Professor Rod Jacobson lead a cost analysis project with business student Ricky Paparo ‘12.
IWoW leverages the talents and expertise of Lyndon faculty and students to meet the needs of small businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Northeast Kingdom. The internships students take as part of the program give them valuable real-world experience while contributing to regional economic development.
IWoW is continuing the consulting relationship with Kent’s Soda. Students are currently revising the company’s business plan to accommodate an upgraded sales forecast to achieve scalable growth. “We couldn’t have done it without IWoW,” says Kent’s father Aaron Melville. Aaron is also an adjunct professor in Lyndon’s Business department.
The Caledonian Record sparked broad interest in Kent’s Soda when it was featured in a front page story about their presence at the 2011 St. Johnsbury World Maple Festival in April. According to Kent’s website, the company is devoted to the positive social development of children with autism. A portion of sales will be donated to benefit of social clubs, camps, and other social development programs for children with autism and their families. Click here to read The Huffington Post story.