Alumni find a grain of success with Muesli Fusion

Alumnus Ian Szalinski '10 started Muesli Fusion – an organic cereal company based in Rochester – after learning about the potentially harmful chemical called acrylamide, found in most popular cereals.

Muesli is a term for raw cereal consisting of whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Though popular elsewhere around the world, muesli is hard to come by in America. "Muesli Fusion fills this niche by offering muesli cereals that have everything from Tibetan goji berries to Brazil nuts," Szalinski said.

The company itself is made up of only Slazinski and fellow alumnus Ryan Quinn '09. "Muesli Fusion is currently available in 14 stores in three states and nationwide through our website," Szalinski said, and he added that he hopes to soon expand Muesli Fusion's reach to larger stores like Wegmans.

Of course, running a business has not been easy by any stretch. Szalinski does all of his work for Muesli Fusion outside of his full time job at KJT Group, a markt research company.

"I need to be three places at once," Szalinski said. "My lunch hour is generally packed with phone calls and emails with suppliers and customers," he said. "I don't have any free time. I never just sit around anymore."

That said, Szalinski admitted that running his own business is intensely rewarding. "My confidence, discipline, efficiency and aspirations have never been higher," he explained, adding that some of the best parts have simply been working with a wide range of people every day.

"Through Muesli Fusion, I've met icons like Stonyfield Farm CEO Gary Hirshberg and professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones. Every day I interact with store clerks, vice presidents, entrepreneurs, farmers, angel investors, government regulatory officials and more," Szalinski said. "It's something I would have never thought about until becoming involved in it, but I have found that most people working in the organic trade industry are genuinely great people."

While Geneseo definitely helped get him on his feet with a degree in business administration, Szalinski said that nothing could prepare him for the reality of running Muesli Fusion better than his relentless optimism.

"My first day personally selling was at the Rochester Public Market in February," he said. "I had been up until 2:30 a.m. the night before packing muesli and then woke up at 5 a.m. to get to the market. I stood outside in 20-degree freezing rain for nine hours trying to sell muesli. I made $34. I was ecstatic; people actually bought my muesli."

He also said that much of what he applies to Muesli Fusion comes from a diverse skill set that allows him to take on responsibilities ranging from securing financing to running the website.

So if you have a muesli craving, Szalinski's invention is sold at Muddy Waters on Main Street and at Jane's Pantry in Mount Morris. While Szalinski certainly has a lot on his plate – or in his bowl – he still looks toward the future.  

"I keep a running list of ideas I think I can turn into profitable business endeavors," he said, adding the list has already reached 59 items.