|Urskinz: Personalizing The Laptop|
Upon arriving at Wake Forest University, all students are shuttled to Information Systems where they receive their very own laptops. From that moment, a student’s laptop is usually his or her constant companion, with wireless Internet available across campus. Often students like to personalize their computers with stickers or cases, so Junior Chris Knight decided to meet this demand by founding Urskinz, a company that sells a semi-permanent, computer-safe sticker with easy removal so that students can feel free to express themselves on their laptops.
“Other companies make them, but no one really targets the younger audience,” Knight said. “I would see students with bumper stickers on their computers,” Knight explained, “and think ‘that can’t be good.’”
Knight was responsible for the conception of the idea and then recruited Will Langevin to be his partner. Knight focuses mainly on the paperwork, including researching licensing laws and finding funding for the venture. Though Langevin has now transferred to The University of New Hampshire, he is still a partner in the company and is responsible for the designs and templates for their products.
“We wanted to come up with a catchy name that people could remember,” Knight said of the unique name, Urskinz.
Langevin and Knight make their products themselves. The process begins with a pre-made template or design, and then the design is cut down and printed on photo paper. Next, they put the design through the laminator. The sticker is small enough to fit the top of a laptop without taking up the whole space, but large enough to be seen and create a bold decoration.
During the development of this idea, Knight and Langevin have found support from several resources at Wake Forest.
“It was a lot easier than I thought,” Knight said of the process to find funding for his venture.
Knight and Langevin consulted several professors and took advice from Bren Varner of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts. Urskinz received financial backing through a Seed Grant as well as a grant from the Chambers Family Fund in the spring of 2007. Knight explains that he consults the Licensing Resource Group for legal advice in order to use logos and designs of universities and sports teams, among others.
Urskinz has just launched its website, www.Urskinz.com, which will help the marketing campaign and allow for online sales. Urskinz will also be advertised on Facebook and other affordable venues to attract the attention of their target audience.
Knight and Langevin have plans to target Elon University and the University of New Hampshire along with Wake Forest University. Over the past year, they have been working with Wake Forest and Elon to receive approval for use of the schools’ designs and logos for Urskinz. As for future sales, Knight explains that the new website will make it easy for clients to purchase their product.
“They will tell us the model of their laptop so that we can customize the size and they can pick out their personalized design,” Knight explains. The product will be available for $12.50.
Knight and Langevin are just starting out with their business but look forward to developing Urskinz over the next two to three years. Knight, who has already started another company called Winni Waste Brothers in New Hampshire, finds entrepreneurship to be an intriguing challenge.
“We enjoy the challenge of growing the company,” Knight says. “It will be fun to hit all the milestones.”
Written by Adrian Tennant