Alum launches start up combining caffeine and baked goods

By Hilary Crawford, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 7, 2014

Getting that caffeine fix has become tastier and more convenient than ever before — no coffee required.

For lack of a better alternative in the local market, University alum Chris Bogdan decided to combine his favorite breakfast items into one product, called Get Up and Go. While it is not necessarily uncommon for bakeries to add espresso to their offerings for taste, it is rare that they do it to pack the punch of a cup of coffee.

Bogdan said he used his Cellular and Molecular Biology major to combine the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee and the baked goods commonly found in cafés. The entrepreneurial path was a sharp digression from Bogdan’s original plan to apply to medical school. However, he said the long process to becoming a doctor lost its appeal.

“I realized I had a good idea, I’m still young and I really didn’t have anything to lose,” Bogdan said. “The way I look at it is that I could graduate and get a job or I could start a business.”

During his busy schedule as a student, Bogdan found himself stopping into local cafés such as Espresso Royale to grab a quick coffee and muffin.

“Basically I was spending $6 to $7 a day because I didn’t have time to make breakfast,” Bogdan said. “I wanted something that was convenient but also that was a better price.”

During his junior year at the University, Bogdan’s kitchen turned into a “lab,” as he experimented with crushing and purifying caffeinated pills to add into muffins. When this combination didn’t work out, Bogdan began using coffee bean extract— a natural form of caffeine. It requires the bitter taste to be masked.

“The whole idea is that you’re getting a cheaper product that’s kind of killing two birds with one stone, but also something that’s convenient and quick,” Bogdan said.

Until this past fall, Get Up and Go items were only sold online. The 7-Eleven at 1300 S. University Ave. underneath Landmark was the first business to sign on and agree to sell the product.

“I’ve literally been in retail for six months, so it’s really been the past six months that have proved this is a viable business,” Bogdan added.

Get Up and Go products can now be found at twenty locations across Michigan. Campus vendors include U-go’s in the Union, Bert’s Café, Mujo Café, as well as the café in the Architecture School’s Media Center.

Bogdan is also targeting other universities, including Michigan State as a new market for his products.

LSA junior Brie Commons, student manager at Ugo’s in the Michigan Union, said that although she was unsure about the idea of a “chocolate chip blondie,” it exceeded her expectations. The campus convenience store sells a variety of other Get Up and Go products, the newest being the espresso cookie, but Commons said the traditional chocolate chip cookies are the best seller.

LSA senior Alma Worthy, also a student manager at Ugo’s, said while it is difficult to advertise the products, those who know about them come in to buy them frequently.

The startup will be launching an Indiegogo campaign on April 15, with the goal of reaching $10,000 to help fund its first manufacturing order. Bogdan is currently making the products himself in a commercial kitchen, which restricts the number of items being produced. Once a manufacturer is secured, Bogdan projects his products will spread to a couple of hundred stores throughout Michigan by the end of the year.

The products will soon feature Indiegogo stickers to publicize the campaign and Bogdan said he will be giving out samples in campus libraries.

“People will definitely see us around campus,” Bogdan said.

— Correction appended: A previous addition of this article misstated that the caffeine source does not require taste masking.