BHSU students launch kombucha business

Bianca Hutzler, left, and Carissa Hauck, a business student and a 2018 business graduate at Black Hills State University, launched their kombucha business with startup funding secured in their Small Business Management course at BHSU. Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — Two students at Black Hills State University walked into their small business management course with a business pitch and walked out with start-up funding. Several months later, that business, Scobi Kombucha, celebrated its official launch Feb. 16 in Spearfish.

Friends and roommates since 2015, Carissa Hauck and Bianca Hutzler began talking about starting a business in September 2018. They developed their idea in the Small Business Management class at BHSU with Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung, associate professor of management and chair of the School of Business.

“In the Small Business Management course, student groups present their idea to a panel of business experts in hopes of getting a small loan to start their business,” explained Wehrung. “I have never seen any pitch, student or otherwise, that was better prepared, rehearsed, and professionally presented. By the end of the presentation, our panel committed to providing funding for half the cost to start the business.”

One of the many things that differentiates Scobi Kombucha from other kombucha businesses is that the product is handcrafted.

“Kombucha is a fermented tea that has a sour and sweet taste. It is both healthy and tastes good. It is actually a great alternative to drinking soda all the time,” explained Hauck. “But, what we really want to do in the community is to promote health and make people realize their full potential.

Scobi Kombucha is the only craft kombucha brewery in Spearfish and the greater Black Hills area. Hauck and Hutzler use small batch jars before hand-filling the liquid in environmentally friendly glass bottles.

“It makes a big difference in the taste and the quality. We like to compare our product to good wine,” said Hutzler.

Scobi Kombucha also promotes its vision of bettering the community through only using local and organic ingredients. Bringing more health, happiness, and growth to the Spearfish community and beyond is their main goal as young entrepreneurs.

Both students come from entrepreneurial families and think of entrepreneurship as a lifestyle, instead of a job.

Hutzler, originally from Germany, came to BHSU in 2015 as a part of a two-semester-long exchange program. She later returned to BHSU to pursue her business degree, with a double emphasis in entrepreneurship and marketing.

Hauck, originally from Belle Fourche, studied in Germany as part of the same exchange program as Hutzler and then came back to BHSU to complete her business degree with an emphasis in human resources. Hauck graduated from BHSU in May 2018. Both students, aiming to discover the world and travel internationally, met through the international students’ organization at BHSU.

Hauck and Hutzler believe that not only the small business management course, but all their other BHSU business and entrepreneurship classes, too, were great preparation for their startup. Hutzler is also involved with the Enactus club at BHSU where she was able to participate in other social entrepreneurship projects.

“It helped me a lot with my personal development and growth,” said Hutzler, “BHSU definitely shaped me in a lot of ways.”

“There are different opportunities at BHSU for those interested in opening their own business. We tapped into many resources from campus,” said Hauck. “There’s a Women’s Business Center (SD CEO) right here on campus that offers free business consulting. They reviewed our business plan.”

Scobi Kombucha is currently focusing on their product development. They are testing the market before making additional investments in order to come up with the most suitable and unique flavors for their customers. During the last year, they had multiple free tasting events in Spearfish. The events took place in different locations in Spearfish, such as Black Hills Hot Room, Spearfish Martial Arts, Crow Peak Brewing, and Black Hills Barefoot Fitness.

In March, Scobi Kombucha will officially begin selling their drinks at various locations in Spearfish such as Blackbird Espresso.

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