The sun has come back out in Spokane, which is great, but that also means it’s getting hotter too, just to add discomfort to the anxiety already induced by finals. You’re looking for something to relieve the stress and beat the heat, and you know of only one item that can satiate both.
So you grab your bulldog bucks and head to the Hemmingson Center in search of some delicious scoops of frozen, creamy goodness, only to find that it doesn’t exist; except in small, overpriced containers at the marketplace, or in one, usually already empty, tub at the COG once in a blue moon.
If you feel like you’re the only one who has suffered from a lack of ice cream at Gonzaga, fear not, because Bunji Mcleod has been there too.
“It was my freshman year, and I really wanted ice cream for some reason one night, but there wasn’t any available on campus,” said Mcleod. “I was just really pissed.”
And so began Mcleod’s, a junior mechanical engineering major, journey to make change for the better and bring ice cream to the dairy — and sorbet — deprived students at GU. He got his first chance to bring the idea to life after being accepted into the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership program his sophomore year.
While in the Hogan 201 course Idea to Solution during that fall, Mcleod decided to pitch the idea of an ice cream parlor on campus to his class as one of the eight potential business endeavors they would pursue. He named his fictitious business venture Bunjilicious Ice Cream, an homage to the name his friends gave to his mother’s baking from back home.
On first try however, the idea was rejected by Hogan professor Daniel Stewart.
“He was super excited about this ice cream idea but I rejected it,” said Stewart. “It wasn’t a idea but I rejected it,” said Stewart. “It wasn’t a typical idea for Hogan pitches because usually they’re something that’s scalable or there’s technology or engineering involved, and at the time I didn’t see that it was going to be a very good learning experience for him.”
But because Mcleod had a genuine passion for not just the business, but a will to simply make ice cream more accessible on campus, he persisted.
After studying abroad the spring semester of his sophomore year and then waiting an additional semester for the following 202 course in the program, he came back to Stewart’s class at the beginning of spring semester with the same intentions in mind. in the program, he came back to Stewart’s class at the beginning of spring semester with the same intentions in mind.
Those who weren’t in the class the previous fall like him had to pitch an idea, and Mcleod once again lobbied for Bunjilicious. This time, Stewart said yes.
“I just kind of put faith in him,” said Stewart. “I was like, you know what, if you have enough passion for it, and he obviously loves it enough to the point where he didn’t forget about it for a year and a half, so there must be something there worth fighting for.”
The class was on board too, as they all concurred having a consistent source of ice cream on campus would be a good thing for the student body.
Now that the idea had a platform inside the classroom, it was time for Mcleod to develop it in a fundamental business model. In the class, each group had to gather data to show why its business model would be successful.
“We conducted a survey and asked over 40 people things such as ‘Would you support ice cream on campus?’ and ‘If there were ice cream, would you buy a cone?’ And we got 100% yes for all questions,” said Mcleod. “And then we came up with another idea to collect data − we started an Instagram page.”
If you search “Bunjilicious” on Instagram, you will find the ice cream shop’s page complete with its own logo, links to petitions and donation pages for the venture and posts spry with ice cream influenced humor. The page has garnered over 120 ice cream craving followers in less than a month and attracted 470 profile views within its first four days of inception.
“When people other than just my friends, like people that I don’t know, started following me and people from different classes would follow, it really hit me that this could be a real idea, this could be a real ice cream shop,” said Mcleod.
The next step in class is going to be planning and presenting how to turn it into a viable business on campus. That’s exactly where he is at in his fight to bring ice cream on campus right now as well.
If Mcleod wants ensure that his business is on campus, it would have to go through Sodexo, a food managing company that oversees almost all of the food-based operations at GU. According to Mcleod, Sodexo has ownership in every food based business on campus except for Thomas Hammer, so it would be safe to assume that if Bunjilicious becomes a real thing on campus, it would be owned and operated by Sodexo as well. But it’s unlikely that Mcleod’s idea wouldn’t be taken on by Sodexo just because it comes from a student rather than an already established brand.
Plenty of ideas that Sodexo has incorporated have been a result of student input, even at GU.
Things like Wolfgang Puck, 1887 at Cataldo and the new Starbucks in the Martin Centre were all a result of student influence on decisions made by Sodexo.
So it’s not unruly to assume that Mcleod’s ice cream shop could be a future student-inspired Sodexo business, but it does need to have a sound business model to even have a shot.
The original idea was for Bunjilicious to be a full-scale ice cream parlor with full-time employees, but after taking a look at expenses, his idea for what Bunjilicious could be has shifted.
“We want to get an ice cream cart instead, and role it into Hemmingson like once a week to create an artificial demand, and get clubs on campus to volunteer time to work the cart in exchange for keeping a percentage of the profits made during that time volunteering,” said Mcleod.
A similar model is used in the McCarthy Center for basketball games, and the idea was given to Mcleod by Stewart
“That model is sustainable, like Bunji could run it his senior year, but then he can hand it off to people the next year with little risk involved, and it could be long-run sustainable and viable,” said Stewart. “Like how great would it be for Bunji to come back here in 10 years and there’s still a Bunjilicious ice cream cart?”
By turning to this style to run Bunjilicious and potentially giving it up to Sodexo in order for it to come to fruition, Bunji would realistically not make much in the sense of monetary value out of it. But that is not his intention, nor is it even a slight concern to him.
“Really, I just care about there being ice cream on campus. I could care less about how much profit I make from this,” Mcleod said.
The desire for ice cream at GU is what initiated this new movement on campus in the first place, and Mcleod hasn’t lost sight of that. If anything, it’s only served to bolster his eagerness to make a change on campus.
He’s done his due diligence to understand what effective ways he could bring ice cream on campus. If he continues to put the work in and get the support from students that he’s received so far, then who’s not to say that one day, Zags can walk into the Hemmingson Center, grab a cone, and let Bunjilicious ice cream melt away all of their worries.
“Life is run by the people who show up, and if you can’t show up, then you won’t run it,” said Mcleod.
McLeod has shown up, and he’s looking to make a difference because of it through Bunjilicious.