If class gives you lemons, make money

Braving rain, snow and tests of their business knowledge, Richard Ivey School of Business students raised more than $42,500 in 48 hours for United Way of London & Middlesex’s Matched Savings and Microloan Program via home-made lemonade stands – with a twist.

The twists – including not being able to use the word ‘lemon’, only being allowed to sell to wholesalers, creating an alternative product to sell (made with lemons), and donating  a portion of their earnings to charity – were created by Hunter Straker for the 2nd annual Hunter Straker and Ivey Give LemonAid event, which ran April 9-11. The event is part of the HBA Learning Through Action course, which gives HBA 1 students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in class to the real world, and is the students’ last project of the year.

“Life is full of twists. The good thing about running a business is that it’s fun – there are twists – it’s different every day,” said Warren Paisley, HBA ’88, Partner at Hunter Straker, during the event launch on April 9.

Armed with only $50 in seed money, a self-made cardboard lemonade stand, a pitcher, a set of markers, and one of 70 twists, 523 students fanned out across London and in Toronto at sites including the Toronto Rogers Centre, to raise as much money as possible in 48 hours.

By April 11, they checked in with $42,500, which surpassed the $31,138 raised last year for the Boys & Girls Club of London.

Ivey HBA student Mathew Merritt, who was part of a team that had to sell while wearing masks and gloves, said the project challenged him to use all the knowledge he had gained in the classroom.

“There were so many things you had to think about, such as where your location should be and how you’re selling. There was a lot of marketing and finance skills involved. It was a great way to end the year,” he said.

Emerson Grigg, an HBA student who was part of a team that was confined to selling outdoors on campus, said the cold weather was the only downside.

“The twist really made it fun and I had a really good group,” he said.

Andrew Lockie, EMBA ’05 and CEO of United Way of London & Middlesex, said the donation was a pleasant surprise.

“This sends a huge message about students in general. As an Ivey grad myself, I really appreciate the stewardship shown,” he said.