The College Cloud
My junior year of college I was very interested in business but didn’t have a real way to “practice” it. I could take classes, which I did but I didn’t feel like I was learning the necessary lessons. And it wasn’t until I had a few friends over that I came up with a way to teach myself.
The centerpiece of this hangout was my cloud-like chandelier that my mother made about a year prior. My friends were entranced! And they asked if I could make them one.
So I thought, this is my opportunity for some hands-on experience. So on Sunday mornings I’d bike to where the fraternities were and pickup their empty alcohol bottles, clean them out, put LED lights on the inside and poly-fil on the outside. I was making all of the clouds in the attic area of the house I was living.
The LED lights came with a remote so the customer could change the color of the cloud. I then marketed my product using social media (Instagram and Facebook) but the best was word-of-mouth. In total, I sold 53 clouds but selling wasn’t really the point. It was about learning.
I learned how to physically make a product (however simple), effectively market that product to a target market, and provide customer support for any issues (the clouds fell a lot at first). Overtime, I experimented with a bunch of ways to improve my product, such as incorporating smells and music.
The most wonderful place where one College Cloud hangs is in the sick room of an elementary school so when a sick child can’t go outside for recess they can play with the cloud.
This experience was an experiment in entrepreneurship for me. I had no intention of doing this full-time or to actually make money (though that was a nice plus). Really it was about teaching myself industrial design principles, applying marketing strategies, and offering customer support for buyers. In the end, I came away with an invaluable experience and an improved centerpiece to my hangouts.