Need a caffeine fix? Wittenberg students have you covered with Sip’s Coffee Bar located in Thomas Library’s COMPASS: Sweet Success Center. The campus’ new go-to coffee spot is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
“Students have put a lot of time and effort into opening this space in COMPASS to bring good coffee to campus,” said Mackee Miller, class of 2025 from New Carlisle, Ohio, and the president of Sip’s Coffee Bar. “Thank you all for your support during this exciting time. Opening Sip's was a joint effort from everyone. I am grateful to be surrounded by great, hard-working people who make my job fun while still learning a lot. I want to especially recognize my entire team and the Tiger Ventures team.”
An entirely student-run operation under Tiger Ventures, a new business incubator at Wittenberg and Sip’s parent company, the coffee bar is one of two entities under the Tiger Ventures’ umbrella. Tiger Fuel, a smoothie shop located in the atrium of the Pam Evans Smith Arena, part of the Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex, is the second.
Miller, a business management major pursuing a minor in environmental studies, has a lot of experience working in the coffee shop industry. This past summer, she interned at a coffee shop in Olympia, Washington.
“I learned a lot more in-depth knowledge about running a coffee shop,” Mackee said. “I have spent a lot of time reading books on leadership and setting goals for myself because this is a learning experience for everyone. I want to do my best in the leadership role I am in.”
With Miller at the helm, the team has grown to include Maci Pierson, operations manager and class of 2025, from New Carlisle, Ohio; Ally White, marketing manager and class of 2026 from Harrison Ohio; and Nick Stover, financial manager and class of 2025, from Paris, Ohio. Fourteen baristas also currently support the operation, all of whom are mainly trained by Pierson.
“It is just a process of learning, observing, and jumping in with supervision,” Miler explained.
Positions within Tiger Ventures and Sip’s are created for students to move up in the company, all while gaining experience running a business. Students apply and interview for positions just as they would at an actual company. Being president may be a position that students hold until graduation, depending on when they become involved, their goals, and what kind of competition there is for the position.
The idea to open a coffee shop in the library came about when Miller and Tiger Ventures CEO Ian Ash, class of 2024 and an entrepreneurship major from Akron, Ohio, met during FIRE (Focused, Integrated, Reflective, Experience) Week last year.
“I have always wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, but I was surprised to find out I could do so during college,” Miller said. “Ian and I talked a bit during the trip about starting a coffee bar in the library, and I had a ton of previous coffee experience. I was excited to get the chance to be involved, but it was just an idea. After FIRE Week, Ian and I started working on our plan and vision for the shop, and now we are here!”
Sip’s serves Boston Stoker coffee and pastries made by D-Sweets on East Main Street in Springfield. The latter will rotate and change during the seasons. Sip’s also serves just about everything coffee-wise, along with numerous flavors. And for those non-coffee drinkers, who still prefer caffeine to get them going, Sip’s serves flavored Red Bull energy drinks.
“We wanted an option for everyone, and I am proud of how that vision came to life. Having a diverse menu was a lot of taste-testing. However, I like my coffee strong, so I had to outsource a little for opinions. The whole process has been fun, and creating the menu has been one of my favorite parts,” Miller said.
“I have an excellent team, and it's been a pleasure to work with them. I could not do it without all the effort and hard work they put into Sip's,” Miller added. “And, we could not have made Sip’s a reality without the guidance of two successful entrepreneurs, who also act as our advisors.”
Advisors for the organizations are Kevin Steidel, professor of practice, business, and economics at Wittenberg, who teaches entrepreneurship classes, and Timmy McCarthy, class of 2002, who is Wittenberg’s first-ever professional in residence.
Tiger Ventures developed at Wittenberg to ‘fill gaps’ in a marketplace where there are opportunities to do business. Students hope to have other businesses up and running under the umbrella this academic year. Tiger Ventures is one of many organizations where that ‘outside of the classroom’ learning happens. It provides students with real-world experience within the learning platform, diverse guidance, and an abundance of coaches and mentors. The organization works to provide positions and job responsibilities that mirror the outside world and to create connections to and with businesses operating locally and throughout Ohio.
Since all Tiger Ventures are entirely managed and run by students, all revenue streams and individual business units function as and within the context of a business and are talked about using that vernacular. All the dollars generated by Tiger Ventures go back to fund Tiger Ventures, and any profitability that is generated either goes back to grow/re-invest in Tiger Ventures or becomes Tiger Dollars as a part of the Wittenberg University financial infrastructure. Tiger Ventures also works in partnership with Wittenberg’s Academy for Entrepreneurs, which was built to encourage and grow budding entrepreneurs and new ideas on and off campus.