Computer Science sophomore finds success in FroYo

Author(s):Tim Brouk

Aarti Panda

Computer Science sophomore Aarti Panda has found sweet success in the tangy, creamy realm of frozen yogurt.

The Fremont, California, native is part of a team of Purdue undergraduates that placed in the top-12 at the Baylor University New Venture Competition. Their concept, FroYo Xpress, impressed judges and fellow entrepreneurial students alike. They beat out about 170 other teams pitching business ideas at the March event. It was like a collegiate “Shark Tank.”

“I’ve always been interested in starting my own thing,” Panda said. “The overall idea of my career is to help people. It doesn’t have to be in a world-changing way. Something like medical technology could be cool but it could also be something as small as a productivity tool – an aspect of someone’s day that I could help.”

Panda and her team received $1,500 to help fuel the concept further. The Baylor competition was open to any team of students. Panda and her team were up against graduate students and upperclassmen with ideas that already brought in thousands of dollars. The event brought the FroYo Xpress team more experience, contacts and mentors to go along with the prize money.

As the lone Computer Science student on her team, Panda’s programming prowess is utilized but her passion for start-up business and exploring the entrepreneurial side of her field is what drives her FroYo Xpress work. She credits classes in an entrepreneurial learning community for her early success. Panda even took entrepreneurial classes during her study abroad experience last summer in Singapore.

FroYo Express looks to be a stand-alone kiosk that contains delicious and healthy frozen yogurt with favorite toppings. Customers just use their credit cards and help themselves to a refreshing snack. No staff required aside from maintenance and stocking work.

The idea came to Panda and her young colleagues after evening cravings for frozen yogurt while living on-campus. The closest source of the treat was a 25-minute walk away. There should be an easier way to get to that cool, froyo goodness.

In 2016, Panda’s team earned $10,000 after placing second in the Burton D. Morgan business plan competition.

Management student Bharet Agarwal and Industrial Engineering majors Henry Berkemeier and Marek Davis join Panda on the FroYo Xpress venture.

The kiosk is still in the design phase, but with each year and each competition victory, FroYo Xpress is steadily on its way to fruition. Panda’s recent work has been with customer outreach and customer data collecting.

While she earns her Computer Science degree, Panda encourages students to think start-up, think of creating your own business while taking classes.

“You don’t have to wait for someone else to do it,” Panda said. “You have the ability and you can get the research to do it yourself. You don’t have to limit yourself.”

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