Gompei’s Goat Cheese Team Overcomes COVID-19 Challenges
Like many other organizations, Gompei’s Goat Cheese (GGC) was forced to adjust their business practices in the face of COVID-19. The thriving goat cheese company, which began in 2013 as a Major Qualifying Project (MQP), historically maintained Worcester businesses as their primary customers. But as COVID-19 forced storefront closings throughout the city, GGC’s student-run team faced the challenge of keeping the company afloat.
In partnership with Westfield Farms of Hubbardston, Mass., which produces several flavors of goat cheese, students manage the innovation, finance, operations, marketing and sales of Gompei’s Goat Cheese. Applying theory and practice learned at WPI, the GGC team gains valuable hands-on business experience, notoriety for WPI’s entrepreneurial and innovative student body, and a sizeable financial profit—which they donate to WPI in support of Global Project scholarships.
Team members recently explained how their WPI education and experience helped them successfully pivot GGC business practices in the face of COVID-19. “The common trait of WPI students is being adaptable to the situation at hand,” says Chief Executive Officer Zoe Januszewsk ’22. “This meant that all GGC team members were able to look at the situation as a problem solving opportunity. I was so happy to see that members of GGC were able to face the unprecedented challenges and innovate to create solutions to the roadblocks we faced.”
Chief Marketing Officer Rachael Mair ’21, added that problem-solving and group work experience gained at WPI helped students to view the COVID-19 pandemic as a challenge the team could face together. Mair says, “The team-based project work infused in the WPI curriculum gave GGC team members the skills needed to effectively work as a group and tackle the challenges head on.”
The team successfully shifted their marketing and selling efforts from external outreach to the WPI community, building partnerships with campus based organizations and connecting with students and parents through social media and creative virtual events. For example, the GGC team hosted cooking nights and trivia nights via zoom as a way to connect with customers. And because they could no longer conduct in-person sales calls, the team shifted their sales effort to campus by creating fundraising events in equal partnership with Greek Life Organizations.
The team also developed a monthly Gompei’s Goat Cheese newsletter [email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe] as a way to keep connected with customers. Lastly, a major change occurred when the team added virtual team bonding nights to their schedules. “Our team prides itself on being a "family" and as it became difficult to bond as a team via Zoom, we began holding virtual team bonding nights to ensure we remained connected to each other,” added Mair.
As the local retail industry begins to reopen, the GGC sales team is reconnecting with Worcester businesses. They are eager to re-establish sales relationships as well as resume pre-COVID events like cheese samplings with local restaurants and breweries. Shout out to the Gompei’s Goat Cheese team for using theory and practice to keep our favorite goat cheese on the shelves.