UNK Management Students Learn A “Latte” About Business from Travis Hollman

Posted: November 21, 2023 12:00:00 AM CST

Students in UNK’s MGT 401 class have been practicing what their instructor, Travis Hollman, has spent most of his adult life doing. While still at UNK himself, Hollman started his own business, one that is still successful two decades later. The entrepreneurial mindset that made him a success as a business owner has carried over into his work as an instructor at UNK’s College of Business and Technology.

In 2008, Hollman became an adjunct instructor at UNK and hasn’t looked back. Over the past six years as a full-time instructor, he has developed a program that provides his students with an authentic experiential learning experience. This semester’s group of students is no exception.

jon watts making a cup of coffee to travis as a guest barista

Taking advantage of Brewed Awakening, West Center’s successful student-run coffee shop, Hollman has found a way to conduct an authentic long-term project with his students. While visiting the baristas, he found himself asking them questions, ones that gave him the idea to help this business while also creating a project for his students. It wasn’t long before he had his students hanging around Brewed Awakening too, brainstorming with the baristas.

The idea was formed to create new drinks “named after the faces you see every day” at UNK. This gave the class the “sense of team” that Hollman was hoping for. Since the decision was made to use Brewed Awakening as part of this class project, Hollman explains that it’s “gotten quite a bit of steam.” Thanks to the support from the college, these management students have been able to do “a lot of great things.” They have recently opened up a pop-up coffee shop which is open on Mondays at the nearby medical center. These resourceful students also have recently collaborated with UNK’s marketing director to get the word out on social media.

coffee supplier giving presentation in the class

Instead of spending their time in the classroom working at their desks, Hollman’s students work in a glass office that overlooks Brewed Awakening. They are able to observe the day-to-day operations of this small business in real time to learn what is and is not working. They don’t just stay behind the scenes though. Hollman’s students work behind the counter with the baristas, figure out the cost of goods, participate in marketing, and do everything “top-to-bottom” to help make this business a success. Instead of simply learning from a textbook, Hollman explains that his students “showcase what (UNK) is doing at a higher level.”

In addition to developing new products, such as Benson’s Brewed Bumpkin named after UNK professor Dr. Greg Benson or Certified Strengths named after CBT Career Center’s very own Brenda Jochum, students are contributing to the coffee shop’s marketing success. Thanks to their advertising efforts, Brewed Awakening sold 500 of these featured drinks in less than three weeks with sales continuing to happen every day. Students work one-on-one with their 24 clients, all of whom are faculty and staff at UNK.

It's no surprise that excitement is high around campus with “faculty and staff constantly asking when the new leaderboards” will be coming out. The results for this Flavor Faceoff Competition keep changing, and it won’t be long before the bracket tournament turns into a ceremony where, in addition to receiving a trophy, the winner’s drink and drink name will become a permanent part of Brewed Awakening’s menu.

dean jares serving coffee at brewed awakening

There are many ways to get involved in this exciting student-run project. Participants can combine tasting each new drink with fun trivia about the person for whom the drink is named while playing BINGO at Brewed Awakening. There will be a $25 gift credit for more delicious UNK drinks awarded to the winner of this drawing. Students have also created loyalty punch cards, scheduled live music events, and even offer valet service which they describe as a “fancy delivery service” for coffee.

Anyone who has spent time at the University of Nebraska at Kearney already knows that it is a student-centered campus where creativity is encouraged. Travis Hollman’s Small Business Management students have proven just how much they can accomplish when given the opportunity. It will be exciting to see what he brews up next with his class.

By: Sandy Brannan

Category: Business and Technology, Entrepreneur, General, Marketing

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