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Bond students smile at whitening success

A team of Bond University students are smiling from ear to ear after launching a new teeth whitening product that has netted them a significant profit, all of which will be donated to charity.

XOXO SMILES is the brainchild of student Alexander Welman, who, with a team of 12, harnessed the power of social media to successfully market their charcoal teeth whitening product as part of an assignment through Bond Business School.

Students taking the Business Model Execution subject were tasked with building a successful brand that generated enough profit to donate to a charity of choice - XOXO SMILES reached its $1,500 target in just one month.

All profits generated from the business until April 12, 2017, were donated to the Starlight Children's Foundation.

Mr Welman, who completed his studies in Marketing and International Business last month, has taken ownership of XOXO SMILES, which he is planning to launch internationally.

He said he discovered the vegan-friendly product after searching for a teeth whitening alternative that wouldn't affect his sensitive teeth.

"When a family member mentioned that I should look into activated charcoal, I thought it would not only be a great product for myself, but a great business idea too," he said.

"Unlike traditional chemical based teeth whitening solutions, our product is a natural alternative that is guaranteed not to cause sensitivity, meaning people like me can whiten their teeth comfortably.

"The coconut shell charcoal works as a detoxification method that absorbs toxins in the teeth to create a natural whitening product, and you can see results in just seven days.

"I loved the idea so much that I got in touch with an activated charcoal trader and formed a relationship, which led to them becoming our supplier and XOXO Smiles was created.

"Starting out, I was nervous that we were not going to break even, so when it happened in just four weeks I was quite surprised and overwhelmed at the success."

Mr Welman said the staff and mentors at Bond University, combined with a powerful social media campaign, were the cornerstones to the product's success.

"The use of social media and influencer partnerships was a real driving force in creating awareness for XOXO SMILES and allowed us to cost-effectively launch our product to the public," he said.

"We generated a lot of pre-branding before we had completely developed the product and created a lifestyle brand alongside the teeth whitening product, which contributed greatly to its success.

"Bond was very supportive and offered mentorship from some of the university's leading business professors, who gave invaluable guidance throughout the whole process - from the brainstorming phase to the product launch and beyond.

"Now that I've graduated, I'm looking forward to officially taking over the business once, with the goal of partnering with the right person to help me  launch to the international market."

Bond Business School Adjunct Teaching Fellow, Benjamin Hayden-Smith, said Bond University was leading the way in cutting-edge entrepreneurship education.

"Last semester was only the second semester we had offered the 'business model execution' subject at Bond, and the teaching staff have been overwhelmed by the results the students have achieved," he said.

"The subject was implemented so students could gain real world experience in taking a concept and executing it in a marketplace, targeting customers, sourcing suppliers and eventually selling to consumers."

Mr Hayden-Smith said he believed Mr Welman and his team excelled because of their determination, business acumen and enthusiasm for the product.

"Alexander has been an integral part of XOXO SMILES from day one and it is so rewarding to see the passion and drive these students have possessed to see the business become a reality," he said.

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