By Catherine Elliott
Entrepreneur # 1: Eric Dyer ‘12
Down the busy pathways of Boston, one will find all sorts of strange and marvellous shops. One has all kinds of high-end furnishings, decorations, clothing and household goods. This particular shop inspired a Union student to step outside of the normative approach to business and bring in some fresh blood. Eric Dyer ‘12 took inspiration from his grandfather’s successful Salvage Company to bring great deals to college students.
Last summer, when taking classes at Boston University, Dyer went into the BU Bookstore to look around. For some time, he had been considering starting up a business, but it was in the BU Bookstore that Dyer had a breakthrough. College students generate comfort in their rooms predominantly through rugs. However, they are sold in Wal-Mart, as Dyer notes, ‘‘with prices between $25 to $60. It’s ridiculous.’’ The prices could, and should, be easily addressed.
Buying from his grandfather’s shop—which receives all high-quality overstock produce, insurance losses, and overcuts from big corporations—Dyer resells them at much more affordable rates, creating a rug revolution. Dyer claims that this is to especially cater to college students’ “conspicuous consumption.”
The company is not yet off the ground at Union College, and Dyer is in negotiations with the bookstore pending their response to his last message. Nevertheless, as an active member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity, he hopes to target the Greek community and expand to poster sales.
This winter break, he will also be utilizing his contacts to work with Harvard University, MIT, Amherst, and other big Massachusetts colleges to get rugs and other products in their college stores. We hope to hear more of Dyer and his Rug Revolution, perhaps in our very own bookstore one day.
Entrepreneurs #2 & #3: Guss Firestein ‘11 and Brett Sussman ‘11
For many who study far into the night, finding food promptly can become an issue. Thanks to Guss Firestein ‘11 and Brett Sussman ‘11, it shall no longer be a problem. These students have created a smart solution to our meal miseries through the establishment of their website, GrubLink.com. GrubLink.com is a sleek and well-wrought website that was launched in the fall of 2009. It has great eatery and bar information for all of Schenectady with menus, times, specials, and reviews. Interestingly, the site divides itself into different sections such as Take Out, Lunch, Dinner, Fast Food, and for a special someone, date destinations may be found under ‘Classy Grub’ or ‘Sit Down.’
However, the website does not stand alone. Firestein and Sussman have also developed a mobile phone component with which students can text “Hungry” to 88500 to get different food specials in the area, or they can text “Drink” to get different drink specials. As Firestein notes, “This is great for those weekends or slow nights when you want to find the best deals and have fun.”
If food isn’t what you’re looking for, there is a handy online sidebar alerting you to different concerts taking place around the college. Firestein and Sussman’s online mission statement is to offer: ‘A simple way to find out where to go for a bite to eat or some music to enjoy.’ They certainly do this in an effortless and easy fashion. Furthermore, GrubLink also organizes events such last fall’s “GrubLink Launch Party” that hosted a band that played music as people enjoyed free food from local establishments. This past spring, they also had a “Block Party” with a large number of the establishments within walking distance of campus, making participation easy. The Block Party attracted many students and Firestein says it “was a big success” and that they plan on throwing it again this year.
There are some handy new components to the GrubLink website, as they have partnered with Delivery.com. By November, students will be able to place orders or pick-ups from the site, as opposed calling in their order. Last year the “GrubStub”—a card that students can show at GrubLink associates and claim many deals and discounts—was added to the GrubLink family. A few offers include a free drink at Bombers with your meal or a 10% discount on your Union Inn check, just to name a few. Firestein notes, “We are also looking to bring on some younger students to train so that they can represent GrubLink at Union College.” If interested, email Firestein and Sussman at firstname.lastname@example.org.