SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Business students at Savannah State University are getting the opportunity to gain real-world experience thanks to an on-campus program.
A group of interns is in charge of running TigerCo Marketing, an online retail company founded at SSU in September by Savannah Sauce Company owners Mike Roberson and Tracey Richburg.
The company sells bottles of Awesome Sauce, also created by the Savannah Sauce Company.
TigerCo Marketing president and recent business administration graduate Tyler Holloway says the experience initially started out as an internship class for her and TigerCo’s vice president, Kalyn House.
“We thought we were just going to be marketing the sauce that was given to us by the company,” Holloway told WSAV NOW.
“Then, Savannah Sauce Company was like, ‘how about you guys run the company yourself instead of marketing the sauce for us, so you can make your own money, and you’ll gain experience in running a business?’”
From there, Holloway and House began overseeing interns working on the project with guidance from the College of Business Administration.
Holloway says the unique opportunity has taught her and other students hands-on skills that they never would’ve learned in a classroom setting.
“I hear stuff in my classes, but you really don’t know until you actually do it,” Holloway said.
“Now I’m able to say, ‘hey, okay, now I know how to build a website. I know I need to talk to this department or Secretary of State to get this done,’ so I feel like it’ll help me start my company a little quicker when I’m actually ready to.”
She says her team had to start TigerCo Marketing from scratch.
“We had to get all of our federal and state papers together and file for all these different tax applications, which is a lot of little tedious work that you would have never thought a business owner needed to do before you could actually sell a product,” Holloway explained.
“We’re just now getting to the point where everything is all taken care of paperwork wise, and we’re able to sell this product and make some money for student entrepreneurs here at Savannah State,” she said.
The money raised from Awesome Sauce sales will go toward micro-loans for student entrepreneurs with verified business plans.
“This is going toward the oldest historically Black college and university in our state, it’s helping our young Black entrepreneurs in starting their own companies while they’re in school and they’re still learning,” Holloway said.
“Students will be able to come to us and apply with their business plan and marketing materials so we can say, ‘OK, we know you’re serious about this, we’re willing to help you,’” she said.
So, what’s in the sauce?
“Awesome Sauce is a mustard-based sauce, it has soybean oil and it’s almost ranchy, in a sense,” Holloway described.
“It has a little kick in it, so it’s a little spicy but not too spicy!” added Dr. Shalonda Mullgrav, interim dean of SSU’s College of Business Administration.
“People love it on chicken, shrimp, steak, any type of protein; I like to dip my fries in it, too,” Holloway shared. “I’ve heard some people say they use it on broccoli, so you’d be surprised.”
She says SSU student Dezhane Lurk designed the current Awesome Sauce logo.
Mullgrav feels the TigerCo Marketing team has done a great job with starting up the small business in just a few months.
“With any new business, you know, right out of the gate, we had a lot of momentum, but you have to do the things to keep up that momentum so that we’ll have continual sales,” she said, “and that’s what they’re learning now.”