Vanderbilt business boot camp helps survivors of prostitution, trafficking and addiction launch new café

Thistle Farms logoThistle Farms, a social enterprise run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking and addiction will be collaborating with the Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute on its newest venture, the Thistle Stop Café.

The Thistle Stop Café will offer fair-trade coffee, teas and locally catered healthy food as well as event and performance space. Like Thistle Farms, where women hand make natural body care products, the Café will employ residents and graduates of Magdalene, the two-year residential program. The Vanderbilt Accelerator teams will assist in creating a sustainable business plan for the Thistle Stop Café, projected to open January 2013.

The Accelerator Summer Business Institute is an intense month-long business boot camp run by the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. In the program, college students and recent graduates from across the country are immersed in a competitive business environment, working to create the winning solution to real challenges from top local and national companies. The students hone essential skills in marketing, sales, finance, real estate, research and corporate strategy, while participating companies receive the brainpower, creativity and proposals from several teams of highly motivated millennials.

The Thistle Farms project will launch at 9 a.m. on June 11 at the Thistle Stop Café at 5128 Charlotte Pike. Final presentations will take place at 9 a.m. on June 19 at Averbuch Auditorium at the Owen Graduate School of Management. Please contact Amy Wolf if you’d like to attend.

Other Accelerator projects include:

  • Bridgestone Americas – Bridgestone Americas recently announced its One Team, One Planet Spent Tire Program, a waste-free vision for the future of the tire industry, with the goal to recycle or repurpose one spent off the road or agricultural tire for every new tire sold. The challenge for the Accelerator teams is to design and implement an innovation forum, where great ideas for using spent tires are created, shared and rewarded.
  • Captain D’s – Captain D’s plans to build a customer loyalty program to draw new diners to the restaurants, reward existing customers for dining more often and bolster spending at each visit. The challenge for the Accelerator teams is to identify best practices of other loyalty programs and design a program perfectly suited to the needs of Captain D’s.
  • Keb’ Mo’ – Grammy-winning blues artist Kevin Moore wants to take the blues forward into the next decade. The challenge for the Accelerator teams is to develop a plan to expand Kevin’s reach through the Yolabelle label, increasing record sales, artists on the label, collaborations across brands and live performance attendance.

More information about Accelerator is available online. To follow the progress of the Accelerator students and their projects, visit the Vanderbilt Accelerator Summer Business Institute page on Facebook.