Article by: Gigi Grimes
Photos by: Megan Rooney
When you think of trendy new foods, a potato may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Chas Newman (MSB ’18) alongside his buds Joe Hwang (MSB ’18) and Matt Wang (MSB ’18) are trying to change that. Disappointed by a lack of good French fries in the DC area, Chas, Joe, and Matt decided to create their own. After months of research and planning, Spud Buds made its debut at the Georgetown Farmer’s Market to the gratification of all of our taste buds. Chas, now a newly minted entrepreneur, describes the experience as a whirlwind of excitement and exploration.
As undergraduates in the business school Chas, Matt, and Joe craved to deviate from the traditional banking and consulting career paths. “We all sat down one night and asked ourselves, what would we do if we had a billion dollars and could do anything? We realized that we all had this shared interest in creating food and creating something from nothing,” Chas explains. Though the three friends naturally gravitated towards the food market, they didn’t initially know what type of food would be the biggest seller. “Based on that conversation we started going to lunch every Saturday and pitching each other on different food-related business projects. And eventually we realized that there was a gap in the market for French fries and we wanted to explore and exploit that gap.”
Out of this gap, Spud Buds was born. However, Chas explains that their biggest inspiration stemmed from the relationship between people and the food that we eat. “The idea is that Spud Buds is about people—it’s about people and potatoes. And it’s about creating this fun and accessible brand that people can really enjoy but also [about] changing the way that people perceive French fries.”
To change that perception, Chas knew they had to create a twist on their fries that would differentiate them from your average salty side dish. Their solution: to “take a quintessentially American dish and make it better by drawing from inspiration across the world.” With flavors inspired by an array of cuisines from countries such as Greece, Venezuela, and Morocco, Spud Buds puts a fresh take on America’s favorite late-night snack. In addition to their menu’s celebration of diverse cultures, Spud Buds’ people-oriented roots are reflected in their fries. Every flavor is named in the language of the country that inspired it, each translating to “buddy”.
While cura personalis oozes from the seams of their business model, Chas admits it has been difficult to manage while being full time students. His best advice to other Hoyas looking to start their own business is “determination.” “There’s a large trade off you have to make to go from talking about an idea to implementing it and that tradeoff is time,” says Chas. “When you have the right idea and the right team, then it just happens. But the only way to make that idea stick is to throw it against the wall enough times that it just does.”
Despite all of the challenges that come with starting a business, Chas continues to cite Spud Buds as the most rewarding achievement he has accomplished at Georgetown. And with this experience, he wants to give back to the community and help other students pursue their dreams as well. “We’re not just doing this to make money, we really do hope to push the ball forward to creating a more entrepreneurial spirit on campus and helping others who want to start their own venture.”
So the next time you’re at the Georgetown Farmers’ Market, keep an eye out for Spud Buds for the perfect snack with all of your buddies! Be sure to add them to your social media newsfeed for mouthwatering pictures and updates on their locations.