While many students spent their Summers interning with fantastic companies or recharging their mental batteries, Parker Hughes had a bit of a different idea of how to spend his time off. Parker, a current Junior at Emerson, decided to apply the skills he had learned in the classroom in a bit of a different way — a way that seemed more challenging for someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur.
So what exactly did Parker do, you might ask? It’s simple: He started a business.
“BRÜZD Foods is a direct-to-consumer business for locally sourced “ugly” and surplus produce,” Parker explains. “We take pride in rescuing misshapen and slightly blemished fruits and veggies, redistributing it to weekly subscribers throughout Boston and Cambridge for less than retail price, reallocating our leftovers to food rescue nonprofits, and rethinking the way consumers perceive imperfections.”
I recently caught up with Parker, Co-Founder, and CEO of BRÜZD Foods, to hear more about his experience in launching his first business over the Summer and what some of his biggest takeaways have been so far.
It’s worth noting, before I shared my interview, that Parker is currently seeking to scale BRÜZD’s founding team. There are currently openings for internships in Business Development, Marketing & Advertising, Public Relations, Business Operations, and Content Creation available with his team. Interns will have the opportunity to work on many facets of the business, and internship performance will help to inform the future process of awarding executive positions in the company. Further details on the responsibilities of each position and how to apply can be found on BRÜZD’s internships page.
How would you describe the company culture at BRÜZD Foods?
“Our culture is based around a common interest in changing archaic food systems and reducing the amount of food waste in the United States. My Co-founder and I have been close since we were seven years old so we operate less like a company and more like a group of friends trying to make an impact. I think that is essential to staying motivated and enjoying the work we do. “
What drew you toward starting a business this Summer?
“Ever since I was a kid I was interested in starting a business. In college I became infatuated in the evolving field of social enterprises and sustainability. I actually found out about the food waste epidemic through a Food and Nutrition course I took at Emerson my freshmen year. Once I had found the right business model to run with our team was fortunate to gain guidance from SSC Venture Partners and Innovate@BU.”
What have been some of your responsibilities since launching the business?
“My responsibilities seem to vary on any given day. In the beginning of the week I may be prioritizing outreach to farms that we want to partner with, then by the middle of the week I have to focus on future marketing campaigns, and by the weekend I am busy doing customer service to ensure our users are happy with our service.”
Have you found a connection between starting a business and the concepts you’ve learned in class?
“I find myself constantly thinking back to the concepts I learned in my social psychology, brands, orgs, and strategies, and consumer behavior course. In my role it is essential to be able to identify who our target audience is, go a step farther by thinking through the right ways to engage those consumers, and making sure to build an authentic identity.”
What is one experience you’ll remember from this Summer?
“I am always going to remember when one of our customers happened to post a review about us on the same day we launched our website, which caused us to get such a positive response that we are still backlogging users for future deliveries. It was this day of beautiful chaos where we had no idea where the jump in demand was coming from.”
Parker plans to continue expanding the company’s infrastructure as he takes on more users. As I mentioned before, he is hoping to build a team of Undergraduate interns for the school year as his company attempts to rescue more “ugly” produce than ever before. For those who are seeking to start a business or join Parker’s venture, he shares the following advice:
“Focus on a problem that needs to be solved, find people who can help you make an impact, and do not be afraid to leave your comfort zone.”