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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Alumni

Juice cart on campus offers Radicle healthiness


Radicle Fresh Juice is only a few weeks into its presence on campus, but it’s already making a big splash.

As the new juice cart on campus, Radicle offers students a healthy alternative to the fast food restaurants housed in the Student Center and Satellite. Run by Clark Neumann, a recent Wolff Center entrepreneurial graduate, Radicle offers freshly-pressed juices at $5.50 and $7.50 a bottle — payable by Cougar Cash.

“I’m now ‘the juice man,’ which is weird,” Neumann said. “I never thought I’d be ‘the juice man.’”

A fruitful idea

Each day, Neumann wakes up at 3:30 a.m.

Before the sun is up, he’s in his kitchen at Cougar Woods, cold-pressing over a hundred pounds of organic produce. He bottles the juice, loads up his tricycle, or “trike,” and heads to the Student Center or Butler Plaza to sell his wares.

Radicle comes from unusual beginnings by university dining services standards. Barbara Hines, wife of architecture college namesake and real estate magnate Gerald Hines, approached the University, was concerned with the lack of healthy food choices around campus and suggested a juice bar or a way to sell cold-pressed juices on campus.

“I’m really into food,” Neumann said. “I’m really into this idea of living well and healthy lifestyles.”

Hines sent a rough idea of the juice cart to Ken Jones, director of the Wolff Center. Jones then approached Neumann, a recent entrepreneurial graduate, who seemed to be a perfect fit for the idea.

“I was going through the program telling everyone I was going to be a farmer one day,” Neumann says, “I still am going to be a farmer one day.”

Neumann credits Hines with helping propel Radicle by getting it on the administration’s radar.

“She said, ‘I’ll get you any meetings you need to get,’” he said. After meeting with auxiliary services, dining services and Aramark, they were ready to go.

One of Radicle’s main attractions is that students can pay for the juice with Cougar Cash. It is also more affordable than comparable juices from companies like BluePrint and Evolution Fresh, whose bottles of cold-pressed juice can reach $15.

This was a major selling point for Neumann.

“That’s a sunk cost,” Neumann said of Cougar Cash, “A lot of times, it’s their parents’ money, and if they haven’t spent it by the end of the semester, it just disappears.”

Future plans

Opening up that method of payment has boosted Radicle’s sales.

In the first week, Neumann took the #RADTRIKE out to gauge the interest students might have in buying fresh juice from a guy with a green tricycle. During his second week on campus, Neumann sold all of the juices — two days in a row.

After his success, Neumann hired his first employee, Emily Simons, a nutrition major. Simons asked for Neumann’s card after purchasing a bottle.

“My major definitely influenced my decision to get involved with Radicle,” Simons said. “I really liked the idea of students having a good, healthy option. I want to be a part of the growth.”

While the Student Center is one of the busiest areas on campus, it is arguably short on healthy options. Neumann has plans to install a second trike here, but it could also be mobile like the current one.

The endgame, however, is an actual storefront in Cougar Woods, complete with a hangout area in the community garden and an open space where customers can watch their fresh juices being made to order.

To realize that dream, Neumann encourages students to stress the importance of Radicle’s mission, which is “to change the way students eat by inspiring healthy diets on college campuses across Texas and beyond,”  to the administration on social media.

Despite the typical hardships a startup encounters in the dog-eat-dog world of retail, Neumann is excited for the future of Radicle.

“Who cares, we’re Radicle,” Neumann said. “Let’s do this.”

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