What started as a school project for a senior-year entrepreneurship class brought two Brebeuf Jesuit students together to form a real-life business. But for 2018 graduate, Max Moroknek, the idea for Zuice, a single-use, disposable phone charger, came a year prior to the class that launched his now-successful business.
“I went to a Purdue football game with one of my buddies, and my father told me to text him when I arrived at the game safely. My phone died, which made it difficult to text him. I went to the retail shop they have at the stadium and looked to see if there was anything to charge my phone with, but I only found the large power bricks that do not come pre-charged, so there was no way I could charge my phone without leaving (the stadium). This led to me looking for a solution of something that could come pre-charged and give an instant fix to a problem many people face.”
After Max’s inspiration – in the form of trying to follow his father’s wishes – he worked for the next year on product development and design. Through various business connections, Max was able to find a manufacturer that could bring his vision to life. Shortly thereafter, his entrepreneurship class with Brebeuf Jesuit Principal, Greg VanSlambrook, began a group project designing and selling t-shirts. The project gave him the final motivation needed to turn Zuice into a real business, but he knew he was missing one thing – a business partner.
“I noticed who was super passionate about sales and would want to continue with me on the Zuice, and that is where Will came in.”
Max’s close friend, Will Murray, showed an affinity for sales through the class project, and Max knew he could take Zuice from idea to successful product with Will as a partner. Since that time, both Will and Max have graduated from Brebeuf and started their collegiate careers at Miami of Ohio – all while launching a successful business in Zuice.
Currently, Zuice is in the retail stores of teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and more. Additionally, it has been sold at the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, and WrestleMania.
“I’ve learned a lot about how people think and how to cater to individual needs, and I learned how to deal with the word “no.” There are lots of people that do not think the Zuice is a good idea, or that they aren’t interested in dealing with an 18-year-old kid, and that is just a part of it. It is my job to change their mind, but sometimes a no is all you’re going to get from some people, and that is okay.”
Max and Will have learned that success comes from the people you surround yourself with. Through their friendship turned partnership, as well as family and mentor relationships, they have become successful entrepreneurs even before receiving their college degrees.
“My father has been a huge help with the project, as he has a lot of experience in the field, but he’s also been a huge help by letting us do our own thing and make our own mistakes. What I have started to see from this is that the best learning experiences come from failures. He also believed in my crazy idea enough to support it all the way through, and for that I am forever grateful. Another person who has been a huge help from the get go is Evan Bedel (2001 Brebeuf graduate). I was paired with him for a mentorship program at Brebeuf, and ever since we have stayed close. He always gave me sound advice on running a business and how to be a respectable man at the same time, and he taught me the importance of the people you surround yourself with.”
We are so proud of Max and Will on all of their successes so far, and those yet to come!
“The business showed me my passion in a tangible way. I always had some idea of what I wanted to do in life, but I think this project has started to turn that idea into reality.”
To read more about Max’s mentorship with Brebeuf alumnus Evan Bedel, click here.