Catherine Wei (’19) and the Boston Marathon Snack Shack
This spring, Entrepreneurship@Dyson welcomes a few new writers. Say hello to Catherine Wei! As a freshman, Catherine is interested in pursuing entrepreneurship and marketing concentrations within the Applied Economics and Management major. She is excited to share her passion for entrepreneurship and connect with students and alumni for Entrepreneurship@Dyson. Today, Catherine will be sharing her first business experience: the Boston Marathon Snack Shack!
Established in 2007, The Boston Marathon Snack Shack was my first entrepreneurial venture. I recruited my friend, Laura, and the two of us set up shop outside my Dad’s office, roughly mile 17 of the race. We were a small business, learning how to take risks, advertise, interact with customers, and analyze our inventory and sales.
As we stood in the cool spring morning, awaiting our first customer, we were nervous and excited. We deliberately placed ourselves in a vulnerable situation because that’s what entrepreneurship is all about, putting yourself out there in the unknown. At the same time though, we were confident that we would be successful. For marketing, we hung bright neon posters that spelled out, “Drinks and Chips!” with our best cartoon drawings of a Poland Springs bottle and bag of Doritos, and cowbells to ring people in.
For us, the Snack Shack wasn’t just about selling food, but cultivating a customer experience. With a pretzel vendor just around the corner, we knew that we had to give our products a distinctive edge. Furthermore, we didn’t see a water bottle as just a water bottle: instead, we advertised our food in order to engage with our customers. It’s wasn’t a money transaction but rather a bond between our consumers and us. When they bought a product, we would also make the effort to get to know them, asking if they have family running in the race or how far they have traveled to spectate. This annual experience of setting up our booth, taking risks, and meeting new people excites me about the world of entrepreneurship!