RIT has a depth of experience in a variety of other established and emerging research areas, including astrophysics, microsystems, and modeling and simulation.
Jason Shanley, a second-year business management student, owns the startup firm UrLocker, which allows students to express their individuality through specially designed covers for school lockers, cellphones, and laptops.
The firm, which Shanley started in high school, is in many respects an outgrowth of his own personality.
"I was always the person who painted myself blue for high school basketball games," Shanley says. "I realized my locker couldn't stand out from everybody else's so I started making locker skins for myself, which led to other students asking, 'Hey where can I get one of those?'"
Shanley further developed the idea and decided to start his own firm through his participation in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), a regional entrepreneurship training program for middle and high school students. Through YEA he would also enter and ultimately win the Saunders Scholars Bright Ideas Business Plan Competition, beating out 589 competitors and earning a scholarship to RIT.
Since then, Shanley has continued to build the firm, expanding beyond lockers to include a wide variety of product types, and developing his own unique niche in the market.
"When I went to college, I didn't have a locker but I realized 'I have a laptop, I have a wall for a dry erase calendar, a mini fridge,'" Shanley adds. "Uniquely designed skins could be created for all of these devices and specifically target college students who are particularly interested in individualizing their 'stuff.'"
Shanley notes that there are several companies currently making similar products but UrLocker is the only one targeting the student market. In addition, the company's skins utilize a novel adhesive substrate, which makes them removable and reusable, and employ a unique pattern on the back that significantly reduces air bubbles.
The firm is already earning national attention. UrLocker was featured on an episode of the public television series Biz Kids and has been contacted by Cirque du Soleil, which is interested in ordering a shipment of skins for its workplace lockers. The firm is also in talks with several retail chains, including Staples and Barnes & Noble, to begin selling in their stores.
Shanley is currently participating in the Saunders College Summer Startup business training program, in which he is further developing his marketing plan, revenue model, and venture capital strategy. He also hopes to bring on additional employees and sales reps and start marketing products at different universities around the country.
"UrLocker is a perfect example of how entrepreneurial drive can be developed into a successful business opportunity," notes Rich Notargiacomo, a mentor for the Summer Startup program. "The Saunders College is dedicated to helping students like Jason take their ideas to the next level."