Live Case – Project

Mobtown Fermentation’s Wild Kombucha Project

A Collaboration Between

Project Synopsis

Helping Mobtown Fermentation grow their customer base, expand the business and establish new product lines beyond their extremely popular Wild Kombucha. Mobtown has experienced rapid growth in the Maryland & DC Area, they are looking to expand into other cities and bring a new non-kombucha product to market. The following projects will help inform their next steps:

Project 1 Regional Analysis for Wild Kombucha Expansion

Project 2 Existing Customer Growth

Project 3 New Product Development

Project Topics

Company Information

CompanyMobtown Fermentation
StageHigh-Growth Startup
Hiring PotentialFollow-on Projects, Formal Internship, Entry Level Full-Time, Upper Level Full-Time

Company Overview

Mobtown Fermentation is a health beverage manufacturer based out of Timonium, Maryland. Their primary product is Wild Kombucha, a cause-driven urban spin on an ancient probiotic drink. Sergio Malarin and Adam Bufano grew up making kombucha and other fermented foods including kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles. When their parents moved to Peru, they left Adam their brewing equipment. He came across the jars and hand bottlers while cleaning out the garage one day, and decided to try brewing. He fell in love with the process and worked to perfect the family recipe over the next 5 years. First friends and family started buying his brew, then some students from Johns Hopkins, and eventually a couple stores were asking for it. Knowing that he could not do this alone, he teamed up with Sergio and their childhood friend Sid.

Experiential Learning Program Details

SchoolUniversity Of Maryland
Engagement FormatLive Case - Think "Hackathon" or Case Competition with a whole class of students! This learning format allows educators to deliver experiential learning to students at scale. Students are often split into groups to work on a live case (or a series of cases) from a real host company that directly relates to key learning objectives.
Students EnrolledN/A
Meeting Day & TimeN/A
Student Time Commitment4-7 Hours Per Week
Company Time Commitment2 Hours
Duration15.43 Weeks

Program Timeline

Touchpoints & Assignments Due Date Type

Key Project Milestones

  • January 1, 2018 - Growth Strategy

    PROJECT 1: Regional Analysis for Wild Kombucha Expansion


    Mobtown is setting up relationships so that they can begin distributing in other cities. The company would like for you to assess and compare regional cities to identify the expansion plan that would be suit their product and brand. This will include a competitive overview based on the products that are available in the different markets and an assessment of how their product might perform if successful.
    Once you are able to compare and contrast the various cities, Mobtown would like you to help think through a launch strategy for your recommended city. Mobtown obviously needs to bring customer awareness to their brand and their Kombucha product They also will likely need to figure out what stores and distribution channels would be most ideal for their company.


    PART 1: Analyze & Rank Cities within 150 miles of Baltimore

    In order to decide which markets are best for Wild Kombucha, they need help analyzing the cities within their reach. They need help better understanding the market size, the relevant demographics, and the competitive landscape.

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on November 1st:
    Prepare an expansion analysis detailing out a diverse set of factors that are relevant to Mobtown’s needs and goals. This can be done in the form of a scorecard or any other method the team determines appropriate to clearly communicate benefits and drawbacks of various cities in the region.

    PART 2: Launch Strategy

    Once you’ve decided on the next city for Wild Kombucha, Mobtown would like help with the product launch plan. These plans typically revolve around marketing, sales, and distribution. They know they will ultimately need to create some buzz around their product and brand. They also want to consider the different types of influential people, places, and events that exist so that they can leverage them as part of the plan. They need to know estimated costs of the suggested launch, what resources are required, and ultimately how they should ultimately be measuring the effectiveness of the plan in both the short and long term.

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on December 1st:
    Prepare a Launch Strategy for Mobtown and be sure to include all the information requested in the prompt. This list of suggested items is not exhaustive so think through any additional information that will be useful to Mobtown as they prepare a launch strategy.

    Suggested Deliverable:

    Final Deliverable – January 1st: Please prepare a final presentation and paper including your Expansion Analysis and Launch strategy. Make sure you effectively tie both together and make connections using the data to support your final recommendations.

  • January 1, 2018 - Marketing & Business Development

    PROJECT 2: Existing Customer Growth


    In order to for Mobtown to continue growing, they need to increase their market share through expanding their relationships with existing customers.In order to do this, they need to better understand their customers and distribution channels. This project requires interviewing existing customers and distributors about the product so they can learn more about the relevant consumer preferences. They would like to collect as much feedback as possible, including metrics around customer satisfaction, customer retention, product enhancements, and product developments. This will also include an assessment of the competitive landscape so Mobtown Fermentation can better understand how they’re positioned and performing compared to their closest competitors.


    PART 1: Distribution & Sales Mapping

    The first step is to learn more about their current sales mix.

    • Who are Mobtown customers?
    • Is this different from their consumer?
    • What percentage of their products are being sold direct-to-consumer vs. wholesale vs. other methods?
    • What do the margins look like under these different arrangements?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on September 30th:
    Provide a detailed report about Mobtown’s sales and channel mix. Define their customers and analyze their industry to determine if there is anything they should be doing in addition to their current efforts. Make sure to look at this through the lens of growing customer accounts, this will be used in part during the final presentation.

    PART 2: Contacting Wholesale Clients

    Mobtown wants you to help gauge how they are performing compared to similar products in the region. For example, how are the yoga studios moving Kombucha compared to the cafés? How are cafés in Baltimore doing compared to similar facilities in DC? How is the Kombucha selling compared to other similar brands? Understanding the general perceptions around performance will allow them to understand the types of stores they should be targeting for growth.

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on October 15th:
    Conduct a competitive & comparative analysis for Kombucha sales at various distribution points to help target stores to sell their product with optimal sales potential.

    PART 3: Understanding End Customers

    Mobtown wants help better understanding their end users:

    • They want to know who’s buying their product and from what channels/stores? They want to learn more about the demographics of their end consumer and how they feel about the product so far.
    • What flavors do they enjoy the most?
    • Do they share the product with others? If so, who?
    • When are they usually drinking the product?

    They are ultimately looking to learn more about the fine details when it comes to customers purchasing and consumption habits.

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on November 15th:
    Conduct user research and help Mobtown understand flavor profiles, customer needs, pricing and sales channels. Aim to interview at least 20 people for this analysis. Synthesize and consolidate your research and use this analysis to create a comprehensive customer profile / persona for Mobtown to leverage.

    PART 4: Additional Channels & Marketing

    Are there stores/locations or other distribution channels that Mobtown hasn’t tapped into yet that would be a good fit for their product? In order to saturate the market, they need to better understand what’s out there. Also, they want help assessing their current marketing mix to see how they can improve within their existing region. Are there influencer’s, events, or other customer engagement strategies that they can be using that may help with their local growth strategy?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on December 15th:
    Using the research conducted, provide Mobtown with an analysis of additional channels and marketing opportunities to help them grow their business. This involves a current state analysis and future state ideal vision for the ideal marketing mix and channels.

    Suggested Deliverable:

    Final Deliverable – January 1st: Prepare a final presentation and paper including an action-plan that would help Mobtown grow its customer base using the research conducted and information collected in Parts 1 through 4, above. The presentation should be succinct and informative with specific recommendations. Additionally, include a write-up summarizing your findings and recommendations.

  • January 1, 2018 - Product Design & Development

    PROJECT 3: New Product Development


    Mobtown plans to release a new product in early 2018 called Café Maté. A Maté is a cold tea beverage that’s different from their original core kombucha product. Mobtown is looking to analyze their competitors, identifying ideal customer segments and distribution strategies, and assess ways to launch their new product within the most ideal markets. Unlike their Kombucha, this product will not require refrigeration since it’s not a probiotic. It’s a caffeinated alternative to sugary coffee-based drinks like the Starbucks Latte you can buy off the shelf. With this product, the company is much more flexible with distribution, though they certainly want to leverage their existing distribution network and relationships as they think through their strategy.


    PART 1: Product Positioning

    Help Mobtown position its new product by thinking through the following:

    • What are the different ways Mobtown can position their new product?
    • Is this a premium product?
    • What type of packaging makes the most sense?
    • What types of products will they be competing with?
    • Who should Mobtown target with their trendy, ready-to-drink tea/coffee beverage?
    • Will this new product potentially cannibalize their existing product? Why or why not?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on September 30th:
    Provide a detailed report about how Mobtown’s can position its new product in the marketplace by conducting an analysis on the consumer demand for such a product, potential packaging and the type of person that it should be targeted toward. Additionally, provide a perspective on the potential cannibalization of sales given the new product that is coming to market, and discuss how to mitigate against this.

    PART 2: Production & Sourcing

    Mobtown Fermentation is planning to have this produced by a third party. In order to do this, they need to find a co-packing facility with the capacity to produce carbonated tea in glass bottles. What are their options? Also, they need to source organic tea, organic sugar, and a few other ingredients to produce this product. What are their best options for bulk sourcing these ingredients?

    They also need help identifying the unit economics with different available co-packers:

    • How much should they produce in their first order?
    • How much will it cost per unit to produce?
    • How much will they be able to sell the product for?
    • What will be the expected margin on the product at different levels of scale?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on October 15th:
    Provide an analysis around Production & Sourcing of the new product to help Mobtown understand the unit economics of different available co-packers. Additionally, Mobtown is looking for potential options to select from for their product, given the requirements described above, provide Mobtown with options to consider for the production of the product by a third party.

    PART 3: Stores & Distribution

    • What are the different go-to-market strategies for this new product?
    • What types of Stores and Distributors should they be targeting?
    • Which of their existing distribution/retailer relationships should they try to leverage for their new product?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on November 15th:
    Help Mobtown establish a go-to-market strategy for the product given your research and analysis in the prior parts of the project. Focus on new and existing avenues to enter the market, provide a perspective on which stores would be most ideal and why. Mobtown needs to understand the most optimal and least costly way to approach distribution of its new product.

    PART 4: Launch Party

    Mobtown wants your help thinking through the different ways they could officially launch their Maté beverage. They want to make their new product exciting and modern. They also want it to feel trendy and tie it to the pop culture scene:

    • What different ways are there to launch the product?
    • How much would an effort like that cost?
    • What would be the potential impact?

    Milestone Deliverable – Due on December 15th:
    Help Mobtown come up with a plan to have a Launch Party to advertise and market the launch of its new product. They want the launch to attract lots of people and ensure key stakeholders are present to enjoy the launch. Provide an analysis of the cost and impact of having the Launch Party and the best way to approach this event in terms of location, logistics, food & beverage. Additionally, provide Mobtown with ideas on how to make the Launch Party geared toward a hip and trendy crowd.

    Suggested Deliverable:

    Final Deliverable – January 1st: Prepare a final presentation and paper including your findings and summarizing your recommendations for Mobtown. Ensure that your recommendations are specific and actionable. The work done in Parts 1 through 4 should all be used to create a comprehensive overview for Product Positioning, Sourcing & Distribution and Launch.

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