Addressing what is referred to as ‘the Vemma craze taking over campus‘, an article recently appeared in Texas State University’s “University Star” publication calling on students to be ‘careful to avoid getting swept up in quick money-making promises‘.

The article, written by “exploratory international freshman” Austin Tomlinson, claims that Vemma is a “dangerous pyramid structure” and paints a pretty bleak picture of the company’s marketing practices and MLM business model.

Success in companies like Vemma requires a complete lifestyle shift for many students, in which lots of time is devoted to selling products and recruiting friends and family.

Students can purchase bulk packages of Vemma’s Verve energy drink in packages of $500 and $1,000 as part of the company’s model.

Although significant profits are possible from drink sales, the Vemma craze taking over campus is a result of grandiose promises to students like six-figure incomes, financial freedom and free cars.

The company is known as a network marketing venture, which means Vemma has opted to advertise through word-of-mouth invitations and sales instead of paying money for commercial publicity.

The pyramid structure is the presented incentive to join the company because representatives are encouraged to not only market drinks but to recruit more students to sell products.

Representatives are paid a small commission from the sales of the people they recruit and those below them. The hope is that the pyramid builds, resulting in what sounds like easy money with little effort.

The company’s approach to potential clients consists of creating hype about the energy drink as a “super juice” and its benefits, providing credentials, presenting success stories and pitching sales.

This is a technique specifically designed by professionals described on the Vemma website as a “talented executive management team, including more than eight decades of cumulative experience in the network marketing industry.”

The approach is designed to quickly overload targets with information to convince them of the necessity to join the company and leave no room for second thoughts.

New representatives are encouraged to recruit friends and family members with the same grandiose promises once they join. Representatives bring in new recruits by advertising perks such as new cars that they have yet to earn and many will not receive.

Sales can become a major effort, requiring a lot of time to be spent targeting potential recruits.  The website’s “Getting Started” section does not mention that money is due each month to remain a company representative.

Debt and discouragement can quickly pile up. Sales pitches can quickly get in the way of studying, homework and hanging out with friends.

University populations are relatively small so if indeed Vemma affiliates at Texas State are in a recruiting frenzy it won’t be long before the supply of students who haven’t been pitched the opportunity is exhausted.

I myself haven’t reveiewed the Vemma MLM business opportunity so I can’t comment on the accuracy of Tomlinson’s description of it, however I do note that he compared Vemma to World Ventures (and some other company I’ve never heard of):

Vemma and similar companies such as WorldVentures and Vector Marketing are dangerous because there are only a few representatives who actually work their way up to earning free cars and significant cash.

These companies use rare success stories to lure students in with the hope that they can become extremely rich.

Now World Ventures I do know, and can confirm it’s a blatant membership drien pyramid scheme. Affiliates join the company and are paid a commission for each new WorldVentures membership they sell.

These memberships merely provide access to a third-party travel booking engine and are not products in and of themselves.

In principle, I can see the attraction of energy drinks and a university student body. Exams, partying, socialising… there’s an abundance of reasons university students might find themselves wanting an energy kick so in that regard it makes sense.

If Tomlinson’s claims are accurate though, perhaps how Vemma is being marketed on-campus might be cause for concern.

For those students looking to get into marketing Vemma as an affiliate, Tomlinson suggests

students should take advantage of financial planning seminars or classes offered at the university to become educated about handling money before making significant budget decisions.

Many students are living alone for the first time and may have never balanced a checking account before. These students may be more susceptible to falling for the grandiose promises of companies like Vemma.

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle requiring hard work every day. Vemma is a danger to some students because the pitch is specifically designed to sound easy, when in reality it is not. Students should be aware of the lifestyle shift required to be successful with a network marketing company.

Students must seriously consider their priorities regarding studies and important relationships before spending $500 to $1,000 on a whim under false pretenses of easily getting rich as a representative.

Pyramid scheme or not, that’s some pretty solid advice.