January 15, 2020
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When Nikolas Revmatas was young, his father taught him something he’s carried with him his whole life: that “the answer to everything is always no until you ask.” It’s this mentality that has guided Nik through his education and career, and what helped him become the brains behind the Saxbys “Make Life Better” campaign, launched this past December  in partnership with Live Life Nice and aimed at inspiring people to “live nice” and “do nice” through kind acts.

A year ago, Nik, then an Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship MS student in his final semester, knew he wanted to do more with his final few months in the program than sit in the classroom. Nik found out about the IME program’s internship course, which gives students the opportunity to earn three credits working on a project-based, innovation-focused internship at an entrepreneurial and innovative company. He saw it as an opportunity.

Nik was introduced to Nick Bayer, Saxbys Founder and CEO, by a mutual industry connection. Nik met with Bayer and soon after, Saxbys Vice President of Marketing and Product, Russ Wilkin. With the IME internship opportunity in mind, Nik asked Russ about potential opportunities or ways that he might work with Saxbys over Summer 2019.

“I love coffee, and I was intrigued by a brand that gives students the opportunity to run a cafe,” Nik shared when asked about why he was interested in working with Saxbys. “Having grown up in coffee-dominated cultures, like Kenya, the Middle East, and Greece (where coffee is a social experience), I felt that I would be able to add value in the right places. I also wanted to work with a Philly startup that was mission-driven.” 

Nik proposed for Saxbys to partner with Live Life Nice was implemented as the company’s Giving Tuesday campaign and continued through the month of December.

Saxbys did not take Nik up on his first inquiry to work with them. The company already had a large, successful internship program in its Experiential Learning Program (ELP) for Student Cafe Executive Officers (SCEO), but it didn’t align with Nik’s years of experience (he’d been in the marketing industry before even entering the IME program) or the project-based component of the course. It’s here that Nik found his father’s advice to ring true. “The answer to everything is always no until you ask,” his father had said—and even if Nik did hear no the first time, he was going to ask again, and in different ways, until he’d exhausted possibilities. So, Nik persisted. He outlined for Russ the components of the program and how it could add value to Saxbys, and eventually he was given the opportunity to work on a project focused on customer experience. Saxbys wanted to identify ways to make their in-cafe customer experience align more closely to their mission to Make Life Better. Nik was tasked with conducting research and a proposal for improving guest experience in ways that would be mission-aligned and drive merchandise sales.

Photo courtesy of Christian Crosby, on Twitter

First, Nik took time to research and learn about the current climate and health of the coffee industry in Philadelphia, defining current strengths and weaknesses of the Saxbys brand. After his initial analysis, Nik looked inward. He interviewed Saxbys staff, from baristas and SCEO’s in-cafe to the administrative and executive teams at Saxbys headquarters, gaining a variety of perspectives to help determine potential opportunities. 

After analyzing Saxbys current operating climate, he began identifying local companies who were succeeding in coupling a positive, high-impact social media presence with trendy merchandise. It’s at this stage when Nik found Live Life Nice, a company dedicated to inspiring, motivating and empowering individuals to “be Nice” and “do Nice.” Partnering with Live Life Nice seemed like the right fit to Nik, and he worked hard to incorporate it into his final recommendations at the end of his project. A few months later, he was scrolling through Instagram and saw a Saxbys post announcing their 2019 Giving Tuesday initiative—in partnership with Live Life Nice. Nik’s project recommendation was now a real Saxbys campaign. 

During the month of December, all participating Saxbys locations slipped tiny cards inside the sleeve of every coffee ordered. These cards provided guests with simple ways they could do something nice. Accompanying the inspiring “Acts of Nice” cards was a limited-time apparel line of t-shirts by Live Life Nice.

“Nik’s work was focused on how to be more intentional about providing tangible ways to activate our mission,” Russ Wilkins shared when asked about the impact of Nik’s work, “and he couldn’t have found a better partner than Live Life Nice; an organization that celebrates the power that simple acts of kindness can bring to someone’s day. It was incredible to see guests join in on the fun—acting on the simple acts of kindness and spreading infectious positivity. It was truly seeing our mission come to life.”

The Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship program at the Fox School of Business aims to provide more students with opportunities like Nik’s—the chance to work with entrepreneurial and innovative companies on projects that add real, tangible value to the organization and give students hands-on experience that can propel their careers (or their own ventures) forward.

“I was able to round out my masters degree with a project that had real world impact,” says Nik. “Being able to earn credits while simultaneously earning work experience is invaluable.”

 

To learn more about internship opportunities, contact Kerry Slade, Assistant Academic Director, at kerry.slade@temple.edu.