Approaching Innovation

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I am a Psychology major. I enjoy learning about people and behaviors and the connection between the mind and the body. It is my passion. Never in a million years, did I think I would be creating a business. But, I did along with my business partner and roommate, Lilly Shuman, and here is our story.

On a whim, and along with Lilly for moral support, I attended the first meeting of the new club B.Y.O.B, Be Your Own Boss, started by freshman Emily Sinensky and advised by Professor Rita Chesterton. The first meeting, I was skeptical as to how the club would make me an entrepreneur, but after I heard about the Innovation Challenge that Muhlenberg was hosting, Lilly and I decided to go for it. The Innovation Challenge is a Shark Tank-like business competition where new business ideas are pitched in front of a panel of judges, most who were Muhlenberg alumni.

A part of the Innovation Challenge was to create a business plan, model, meet with a professional mentor and in our case, create a prototype. After many hours of tinkering around with ideas and potential businesses Lilly and I could create, it came to us. After subscribing to the beauty box, Birchbox in the beginning of the year, we found ourselves throwing out and not using majority of the products in the box, thus leading to lots of wasted money. When we did research to find subscription boxes that fit our interests and couldn’t find one, we decided to create our own.

Our company, College Crate is a fully customizable subscription box geared directly towards college students. As college students, we don’t have tons of money to waste on products we are not interested in.

We decided to make the box customizable based on the category of products customers would pick based on what they are interested in. For example, customers would get a choice of ten item categories of options they would like in their box (healthy snacks, tech accessories, socks, accessories, drink mixes, etc.), and then the customers would get to check off four categories they would be interested in. In their box, they would be guaranteed to receive the categories of products they chose but they would not know the specific items, leading to an anticipated surprise for the customers.

In the process of preparing for the competition, Lilly and I put countless of hours into preparing our product and thinking it through every angle. We were also assigned a mentor, Ron Czajkowski, who has been a mentor for the Innovation Challenge before as well as a Muhlenberg Alumni.

Through scheduled meetings in GQ, Ron would go through our business model in the nest detail, showing how we can improve our company, and make it actually something tangible and attainable. Ron was also instrumental in making sure we hit our company goals as well as refining our presentation.

After hours and hours of preparation, shopping for items for prototypes, rehearsing our presentation and making our claims of why our product will succeed in the real world, it was show time. Look to news to see how it all turned out.

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