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Springfield College’s entrepreneur: Jon Katz

Ian Snowdeal
@IanSnowdeal25

As a young man growing up in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Jonathan Katz has always been influenced by fitness. A three-sport-athlete in high school and a former competitive natural bodybuilder, nearly every aspect of Katz life has been influenced by health and fitness.

Now, a 21-year-old junior at Springfield College, Katz is the Business Club President, Resident Assistant of the Living Learning Community in Massasoit Hall, member of the sales club and an entrepreneur.

Katz has currently been taking full control of his own entrepreneurial project, Blendi. Blendi is a battery powered portable blender bottle, that has the ability to blend protein shakes and smoothies on the go. It has been nearly a two-year process for Katz to fully develop his finished product of Blendi.

Blendi.jpg
Photo from Katz website https://www.blendiblenders.com/

In the spring of his freshman year, after a workout, Katz began to become frustrated while preparing a protein-shake in his shaker bottle. The shake was clumpy and wasn’t what Katz wanted after his workout. It started to become a pain in his everyday life. After that workout, Katz realized he wanted to solve this struggle that had been nagging him throughout his years of fitness.

Katz said,  “My goal was to just solve a pain I had, not being able to blend on the go you know?”

Katz, originally a physical therapy major changed to marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship after his realization that this idea of a portable blender could become a money-making-generator for him in the future. During this transition into becoming a marketing major, Katz reached out through upwork.com in June of 2016 to find an engineer to help draw up his original CAD drawings for his idea of Blendi.

Katz said, “It was something I was doing half-heartedly, I didn’t believe it would really become too much.”

However, in the fall of his sophomore year, Katz attended a three-day startup program at Western New England University, where he was one of five companies to have their product make it to the final process of helping develop their product. Katz was joined by a lone engineer to go out and show his CAD drawings at the mall to 50-people and interview them about his product.

By the final day, Katz had to develop a prototype of his idea. Katz bought a blender from Walmart and cut the cord on it, and then attached it to a drill battery and trigger. When he pulled the trigger on the drill battery the blades of the blender spun. Katz said, “It was a proof of concept that you could have a portable blender.”

During the three-day-startup, Katz was exposed to Valley Venture Mentors. Valley Venture Mentors is a nonprofit dedicated to achieving transformational growth for startups and changing the face of the economy in Western Massachusetts.

Following the event which was hosted by Valley Venture, Katz began a mentorship program with Valley Venture. He was matched with Jim Geisman a Harvard Business School graduate. There, Katz worked on the elements of developing his product. Katz learned how to pitch and further develop the marketing side of Blendi.

Katz said, “It was a good experience, I learned a lot.” Following the end of his mentorship program at Valley Venture Mentors Katz said, “I was now full-fledged into this product (Blendi).”

During his mentorship program, Katz contacted a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to help develop two prototypes for his blender. It cost Katz $700 for his prototypes to be made by two groups of UMass engineering students to complete. In the end, both of the groups developed a great prototype for Katz, but he said, “One was superior to the other and had my vision in mind.”

The group that had developed the winning prototype later won the entrepreneurial project developed that year at UMass.

The end of his sophomore year was near and Katz began to slow down the gears on the development of Blendi and began an internship in Los Angeles, California, with a small organic health company, Genexa. While working for the company Katz began to learn how to become a CEO. Katz would bike to work every day to work out of David Johnson’s garage where the companies office was located. During the summer the group made the change to a real office located in Beverly Hills because of the companies growth.

While working for Genexa, Katz had to put Blendi in the backseat but learned valuable lessons from his time in Los Angeles.  In a conversation with the CEO David Johnson, Johnson told Katz, that he had a finished prototype and needed to begin manufacturing the product and put it out for sales. Once his time in Los Angeles was over Katz began to truly put Blendi ahead of all of his other tasks. He contacted multiple manufacturers and found one through Valley Venture Mentors.

While attending the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Conference at the MassMutual Center this Fall, Katz began marketing his product and found the name Blendi when a person in the crowd announced the name to him. Throughout this current school year, Katz has devoted himself to growing Blendi and developing its potential. The process has been a long and hard one for him but with his determination and hard-work, Katz has now had Blendi on sale since the middle of March.

Along with all of this work that he has devoted to Blendi, Katz has maintained a 3.0 or higher GPA during his time at Springfield College all while balancing the task of being a Resident Assistant in a Freshman hall and becoming the first student to be an elected board member in Business department. Katz said, “There is no balance when working on all of these tasks, I have a 9-5 basis when I get my schoolwork done and my Blendi work done.”    

Katz also doesn’t believe in 5-10 year plans. Katz believes that life changes too much at his age and said,  “Every 3-4 months I have a goal I want to achieve.” He breaks them up into smaller increments because what he is focusing on now may change. Katz ultimate goal this year is big.  “By next year I want to have $50,000 in sales by next year.”

Since the release of Blendi this March, Katz has had 40 sales and is beginning to travel around to gyms across Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, to premiere his product to his intended audience. Blendi is currently $45.99 with offer code B/LENDI and can be purchased at https://www.blendiblender.com/shop.html along with Blendi apparel and stickers.

 

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