24-year-old Ian Szalinski, a 2010 graduate of SUNY Geneseo, found great success upon entering the working world. He has created a new organic Muesli cereal, Muesli Fusion, which is currently being sold in 93 locations throughout 11 states. And, with his recent collaboration with Wegmans, the only place for Szalinski’s business to go is up.
Szalinski was a business major and psychology minor at SUNY Geneseo. He was also founder of Geneseo’s ski and snowboard club, a member of the men’s rugby team and a participant in G.O.L.D. As Szalinski looks back on his years at Geneseo, he says that it was an entrepreneurship class he took that made him believe running his own business was something he’d be interested in doing. Two years later, this belief has come to life.
Muesli Fusion is a whole grain cereal made with dried fruits, nuts and seeds. It is a healthy product with no artificial flavors. “I have been eating Muesli for years,” Szalinski says when explaining how he came up with the idea for the product, “there aren’t that many products on the market and there is nothing organic, so I decided to start a new organic product.”
An innovative way that Szalinski has promoted his product is through the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as his own blog. It allows him to communicate with customers and gives them a connection to the brand. “It’s not necessarily driving a specific number of repeat customers, but it’s a great way to spread news,” he says. “Social media can be an important business tool if it’s done right, but it isn’t for all businesses,” Szalinski explains, “It’s largely for consumer businesses. If you have a product on shelves it can be good because it needs a wide consumer base.” And Szalinski’s consumer base is absolutely growing as a result of his product being sold in Wegmans. For the future of Muesli Fusion, Szalinski hopes to expand the market here on the east coast and then move further west. He is also looking to hire more employees to help with the increasing demand.
Some advice Szalinski has for Geneseo students and alumni who want to start their own business is to do a lot of research before making big investments. He also attributes networking as an important aspect of his success. “Be prepared to do a lot of work and adapt when things don’t go the way you want them to,” Szalinski adds. “People told me it was going to take twice as long and cost twice as much. For me, it has probably taken four times as long and cost ten times as much,” Szalinski joked. But, we have to admit it looks like it was well worth it!