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Indiana University Bloomington

JCEI

An Entrepreneur’s Energy

Zac Workman BS'10

Zac Workman

“When I have questions, I have the smartest people in the world here at Kelley to talk to for free.”

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Zac Workman describes himself as “the average student—with less sleep and more paperwork.”

Workman, a senior at IU, is the founder of ZW Enterprises, which sells Punch Energy Drink, an energy drink he created. As a swimmer in high school, Workman identified the need for a good-tasting energy drink made from natural ingredients that would not cause a “crash effect,” a common complaint from consumers of highly carbonated beverages. So he came up with a drink using his grandma’s family-famous fruit punch recipe and pitched the product to several potential partners. He eventually got the attention of Power Brands, an L.A.-based beverage development company whose products have included Gatorade, Pepsi, and Sierra Mist. His product hit shelves the summer before his junior year of college and is now available in several counties in Illinois and Indiana, as well as through his Web site.

With an engineer for a father, Workman grew up noticing that many engineers have good ideas but lack the business skills to effectively put them to use. “I decided to study business so that I could execute my own ideas instead of working for someone else,” he says. Already his wish has come true—and he’s not even a college graduate yet.

Today, when Workman isn’t doing homework, he’s busy communicating with distributors, operating the Punch Web site, and sponsoring events to get the word out about Punch. During Little 500 week in April of 2009, Punch co-sponsored the Souljah Boy concert at IU. Workman is also the treasurer for the Kelley Portfolio Management Club and is involved with IU’s Young Entrepreneur’s Association and Campus Crusade for Christ.

Workman feels lucky to have the resources of the Kelley School at his disposal. “When I have questions, I have the smartest people in the world here at Kelley to talk to for free,” he says. “They are constantly willing to help.” During the school year, Dr. Donald F, Kuratko (Dr. K) meets with Workman every other week to talk about his business and offer guidance. Workman also meets regularly with Entrepreneurial Innovations Manager Travis Brown, who taught the first entrepreneurship course he took at IU. They discuss what is going on with Punch, the business goals, the possibility of investors, and which projects to take on. Before Workman’s product launched, Brown convinced him to participate in the IU Innovation Fellows Accelerator, a three-day program in which the Johnson Executive Board and other professionals come in to speak to students about entrepreneurship and offer advice on how to form a business.

“My business complements my school work and makes my education at Kelley more meaningful,” Workman says. “Sometimes my classmates will comment that we will probably never use what we’re learning. I just laugh because it’s stuff I’m either already using or am interested in applying to my business. It gives me a reason to explore everything more.”

Workman’s reasons for coming to IU, he feels, are obvious. “I wanted to be at one of the best schools in the country for business,” he says. “Everyone in the world who is interested in entrepreneurship wants to come to Kelley.”

Published April 15, 2011