After four years at the University of Georgia, Joe Nedza was not yet ready to graduate.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just didn’t see the purpose in graduating,” Nedza said.
Two years later, he has found his calling.
When he isn’t in his 15 hours of classes or meeting with groups (yup, he has a group project in each of his classes), you might find him roaming around Athens, serving up ice cream in funky, bubble-shaped waffle cones.
This isn’t your average college job. Nedza is his own boss and also the entrepreneur behind Nedza’s Waffles.
His company has been up and running for three months and currently operates as a pop-up, making appearances everywhere from the business school lawn to Creature Comforts and the Athens Farmers Market.
Their product is not the first of its kind, but it is not something you can find elsewhere in Athens. Called either “egg” or “bubble” waffles, Nedza's serves a scoop of ice cream with toppings in a cone that looks like large bubble wrap — if bubble wrap was brown, smelled like a sweet bakery, and was, of course, edible.
The waffles are either plain or chocolate, and taste like a collision of breakfast and dessert. The waffle itself is much lighter than your standard cake or waffle cone fare, though it retains a nice crisp, distancing itself from something you might get at IHOP.
With only four menu items, ordering from Nedza’s is pretty simple. You either get a bubble cone with a scoop of ice cream and toppings or you can have just the cone with your choice of toppings.
At $4 or $6, these confections are in line with other Athenian ice cream outlets, and one cone could easily feed two.
Back in Athens, the business management major got together with his girlfriend Marie Martinides and Henry Harris, Nedza’s chief operations officer, to start the pop-pop, which now employs around eight to ten people.
“It is good to surround yourself with people who are better than you,” Nedza said. He believes the biggest benefit of college has been networking and meeting fellow students.
Nedza’s also tried to make their Instagram-ready product stand out by writing a compliment on each cone wrapper. Nedza said his goal is to take people whose day has been a mere “five” and “bring them up to a ten.”
While it can be a bit odd when they look you over for a fitting compliment while you order, the concept is cool and different, while encouraging kindness and positivity.
In the future, Nedza envisions bringing his waffle company to a storefront, and then later investing in a food truck for concerts and events.
His advice for other student food entrepreneurs?
“My advice would be to not do too much too quick and to find what works for you and not branch out fast,” Nedza said, “Find low overhead costs and find employees that are better than you. Don’t do it alone. And get ready to work harder than you have ever worked before.”