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Last modified: Monday, February 23, 2009

Inc. recognizes Kelley School student's company as one of "America's Coolest College Start-Ups"

Feb. 23, 2009

Editors: Zac Workman is available for interviews. Contact George Vlahakis at 812-855-0846 or to arrange for an interview.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Zac Workman, an honors student in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, heads up one of nine student-run companies featured by Inc. magazine in its new list of "America's Coolest College Start-Ups."

Zac Workman

Zac Workman holds a can of the energy drink produced by his "cool college start-up."

Print-Quality Photo

Inc.'s list honors successful companies that were born and continue to grow on campuses across the nation. Workman, 21, is founder of ZW Enterprises, which sells its own energy drink, Punch. The article will be available on newsstands Tuesday (Feb. 24) and is now online at, where readers also are encouraged to vote for their favorite company.

"School is just like working a second job, just another day at the office," said Workman, a finance and entrepreneurship major. "I am no different from any other kids my age, only a little more paper work and a few more sleepless nights.

"I find myself being able to apply everything I'm learning in class," he added. "When a kid next to me said, 'When are we ever going to be able to use this,' I kind of chuckled, because I knew I'd be using it with my Quick Books software that night or I'd already come across that problem. It's really made my learning experience more beneficial."

The junior from Marshall, Ill., said he has been interested in business since he started investing in the stock market as a high school junior. After the death of his twin brother his freshman year, Workman said he didn't want to delay his dream of starting his own business any longer.

He began researching energy drinks. As a three-time All-American swimmer at North Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Ind., he had consumed a lot of energy drinks, but he didn't enjoy how they tasted. Ultimately, he decided to try a fruit-punch recipe that has been in his family for years, one that tasted like Grandma's.

Sold in 16-ounce cans, Punch combines caffeine with seven all-natural fruit juices, minerals, amino acids and vitamins, without fructose corn syrup, preservatives or sodium.

"The flavor for Punch is a recipe that has been passed down three generations, that is now being filled right alongside some of the biggest names in the industry," Workman described.

After pitching the product to a long list of potential partners, Workman found Power Brands, a beverage development company whose products have included Gatorade, Pepsi and Sierra Mist.

Power Brands CEO Darin Ezra told the Inc. magazine article's author, IU journalism student Allie Townsend, that his team was impressed by Workman's professionalism and Grandma's recipe.

"The taste of Punch was definitely a major component in why we decided to work with Zac," Ezra told Inc. "One of our project managers rated Punch as her favorite product of 2008, which is great, considering we developed over 250 products last year."

Since Punch was launched last year, three Anheuser-Busch distributors have picked up the product and sell it throughout Indiana and Illinois. Sales are on track to reach $1 million in 2009. He also designed the can's design.

"At the Kelley School, we talk about our mission with our students as 'the dream fulfillment business,'" said Kelley School Dean Dan Smith. "We encourage our students to think big, take risks, and believe in themselves. Our school's culture is very entrepreneurial and Zach's business venture is one of many such start-ups by Kelley students. I am truly delighted to see his product, Punch, get off the ground and be so well received in the marketplace. These types of success stories provide ongoing motivation for all of us."

Workman said professors have been very supportive. Professors in law, accounting, strategy and marketing have offered input on trademark issues, finding the right loan terms and how to set up a limited liability company. He meets regularly with faculty in the school's Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and participated in its Innovation Fellows Accelerator program.

"I've not actually turned in the Punch business plan as an assignment, so I've never been graded on my idea for Punch. But I've spoken with many of my professors about the idea," Workman said. "They've all helped me refine my business plan. They're all very excited to help me and they bend over backwards to do anything for me, which I really appreciate.

"The faculty here are so amazing and so willing to help that I couldn't be in a better place."