Sustainable Student Business Born in the Classroom

By Phoebe Myers

It’s not often a class project gets picked up by “real world” investors.

Connor English, a junior Individualized Studies major, was assigned to create a bike share business model in his Western 341 class. A fellow classmate, Emily Marous, wanted to do something a bit more off the beaten track, yet still in line with the sharing economy aspect of a bike share. The two decided to pair up and brainstorm an alternative.

Furniture left out by the curb.
Furniture left out by the curb.

English and Marous had both witnessed the piles of furniture left on the curb after students move out for the summer. Garbage hunters pick up a small portion of these piles, but the majority of it ends up in the dump. In fact, research for this project showed English that furniture sent to landfill has significant impact in terms of mass.

In addition to the environmental detriments of the wasted furniture, it is in no way cost effective. For most students the expense of hiring a moving truck to lug furniture back and forth can be add up to thousand dollars. Also, many students buy new furniture every year, as they don’t have storage for it at home on school breaks.

“Based on… our survey findings, if they bought our largest package we would still be saving them $800 throughout their college career,” English said.

Marous and English’s project was essentially recycling furniture. Called Furnishare, their company would rent used furniture to students at an affordable price. The “package” would include delivery, assembly, and pick up at the end of the year.

The sourcing of the furniture would come from high quality furniture being sold online, and also being bought from students looking to get rid of old furniture at the end of the year.

English pitched the idea during Farmer School of Business’ entrepreneurship program Startup Weekend, October 23-25.

“In that 48 hour period it [Furnishare] was stretched, completely developed…and then pitched to investors” English said.

Furnishare competed against 18 other teams, with a judge panel of different investors, and won the competition.

The prize? A meeting with different investors, and a free 90-minute consulting session with The Garage Group in Cincinnati, a strategy firm, or as English describes them, “an entrepreneurial creativity group.”

If all goes well, English hopes Furnishare will be up and running by next school year.

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