Student Business Spotlight: Friendress

Student+Business+Spotlight%3A+Friendress

Jon Davis , Contributing Writer

 

Airbnb allows people to profit from their empty room. Uber allows people to profit from driving their car. Now three University entrepreneurs, School of Management Strategy Intern Julia Tomeo ’16, Kate Jansen ’16, and West Shepherd ’17, built a business to let people profit from their closet. They created Friendress, the newest solution to sharing and borrowing clothing.

It all began in the fall of 2015 with a half-credit course called Should We Start This Company? The course guides students through the process of turning an idea into a business plan. While brainstorming inconveniences in their lives, Jansen identified that many people suffer from “having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.” Jansen realized that sharing clothing could be improved and simplified. Friendress was created that fall with the help of her friends Shepherd and Tomeo, who were also taking the class. Since they lacked the technological expertise to produce the website, they recruited two engineering students, Archer Greenhalgh ’19 and Ben Langley ’19, to assist them.

The trio decided to participate in BizPitch 2015, the annual business pitch competition, and ended up placing as one of the finalists. As a result, they earned office space off-campus and became connected with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“We interact with them every single day … I’ve learned more from them than all my other classes combined,” Shepherd said.

The SBDC helped the Friendress founders turn their business plan into a fully-fledged company.

Friendress is an online platform where people can take photos and upload their closet online. It is also accessible through a mobile application. The app allows your friends to browse their closet, and if they need a piece of clothing, they can request to borrow it. People can also rent clothing to strangers. Rather than having rarely-worn clothing sitting in their closet, Friendress encourages its users to make their closets profitable. The app’s borrowers also save money by renting their friends’ pieces rather than purchasing expensive clothing. With Friendress, everyone is better dressed and has money to spare.

One of Friendress’s most recent users is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Erin Jablonski, who taught the course, Should We Start This Company? She and her friends use Friendress to share clothing.

“Using Facebook and texting for [sharing clothes] is ‘clunky,’” Jablonski said.

The company’s marketing strategy is to start with the University, since people already share clothing with their friends on campus. Jansen identifies that the demand for a clothing sharing app already exists.

“Primarily we’re going to be looking at word of mouth marketing … as well as recruiting friend groups rather than specific individuals since people are more likely to share clothing with their friends instead of complete strangers,” Jansen said.

Friendress then hopes to spread to other universities and colleges.

If you want to help Friendress spread the word, contact them through their website at www.friendress.com. You can also follow them on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @friendressapp and on Snapchat @friendress_app.

 

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