By Sean Callahan, News Editor
Many Saint Vincent College students are familiar with Rachelle’s 15650, a local coffee shop in Latrobe run by fellow students that opened last semester. However, it seems there is room in town for more than one student-run business! Sigma Snacks, a Pennsylvania-based Energy Bar company situated in Latrobe, was conceived last semester by multiple alumni of the SVC class of 2022 and current students. The grand opening was held in the summer of 2022.
Tyler Overmier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sigma Snacks and SVC alumni of the class of 2022, conceived of the idea of Sigma Snacks last semester when he and Robert Harrington–sophomore marketing major and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Sigma Snacks–were walking to a 6 a.m. practice for the men’s swim team.
“We realized we were exhausted, we needed something for our stomach to energize and hold us through a two-hour practice,” Overmier said. “But we also didn’t want to drink any coffee, Monster, or Red Bull, because we could be throwing up later!”
Overmier and Harrington’s belief in a healthier, alternative energy source, particularly for athletes, evolved into the idea of an energy bar.
After solidifying their idea, Overmier and Harrington enlisted the help of several other like-minded students–including one from The University of Pittsburgh Johnstown–who helped complete Sigma Snacks’ future executive board. They then consulted SVC’s Small Business Development Program, as well as individual professors in the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, to help iron out the details of their business.
“We were not alone. But we were learning the whole time. We went to finance and business policy and strategy professors for assistance too,” Overmier said. “If it were not for them and the resources that Saint Vincent provided, we would not be where we are today.”
Overmier emphasized the hard work of his team, as well as his own challenge of balancing responsibilities as a full time student, athlete, working a business internship, and starting up Sigma Snacks. However, he and his team remained motivated by their original goal.
“We have so much drive for this product, because it really does not exist out there. There is nothing for athletes. My team and I just know we need to do this,” Overmier said.
Overmier explained that Sigma Snacks began in the market by asking other SVC athletes to try the energy bars before lifting in workouts or attending their routine practices. This allowed them to test their product prototype, receive feedback, and refine the recipe, all while marketing the product locally.
Harrington’s responsibilities as CMO of Sigma Snacks factored into this, and have evolved over time. Originally, he managed all the brand’s official social media accounts, such as Instagram, which has accumulated almost 500 followers since its first post in March. When the brand officially launched in August, he began selling Sigma Snacks energy bars and contacting businesses in hopes of gaining interest in their product, in addition to capturing public attention.
Like Overmier, when Harrington was not studying or in swim practice, he would be dedicating his time to Sigma Snacks. Harrington is grateful for what he has learned alongside his friends and business partners. He described watching their brand advance significantly in a short period of time as an eye-opening experience.
“When considering launching a business or joining a start-up, you don’t always consider how much time it will take to ensure complete safety of your product or potential legal ramification,” Harrington said.
Mauricio Sanchez, senior finance major and former CFO of Sigma Snacks, also shared Overmier and Harrington’s sentiment of the business start-up being a learning process.
“Holding meetings during busy weeks of classes to talk about an uncertain future was not easy,” Sanchez said. “However, it was Tyler’s passion and the amount of effort he could put into this idea while running on only three hours of sleep that made me want to help.”
Sanchez assisted the team by providing financial projection scenarios for Sigma Snacks, such as calculating amounts of possible cost of goods sold for their products and creating a business plan. Like Overmier, he stressed the help SVC professors provided. While many of the team had learned the terminology and functions of a business, they had to learn how to apply them as well.
Overmier explained that in the beginning, Sigma Snacks was marketed towards college athletes, particularly in the Latrobe and Greensburg area. But now, they do nationwide shipping and are creating new products for everyone. Meal replacement bars, post-workout bars, and non-caffeinated (breakfast) bars for children are among some of the product ideas their team is considering. He is passionate about providing an alternative to energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages.
“We really want to energize America with a nutritious product. We’re stepping away from our original college focus and entering a broader consumer market,” Overmier said.
Today, Harrington is still involved with Sigma Snacks’ operations while attending SVC full time. He continues to assist Overmier and the rest of their team with sales, outreach with athletes, and furthering the growth of the brand as CMO.
Sanchez, since helping Sigma Snacks advance beyond the planning stages and first steps, has stepped back from his role as CFO. However, he is always available should the team need his assistance once again, and he is proud of how successful the company has become.
Although most of the executive team has graduated from SVC, Overmier has not forgotten the place where his team forged Sigma Snacks’ legacy.
“We started as a Saint Vincent College company, and now it is growing into something bigger,” Overmier said. “But it is always going to have its roots in SVC, because that is where our idea originated.”