"Because our business was launched with support from members of the entrepreneur club at our school, I learned to run it primarily by asking tons of questions along the way," says D.J. Waldow, 21, who's been operating a dry-cleaning service from the student lounge of the University of Michigan Business School since January. Matt Campbell, a fellow University of Michigan student, is Waldow's partner.
From a technical standpoint, the beauty of Waldow and Campbell's business is they don't do any of the dry cleaning themselves. Instead, they've subcontracted with a local dry cleaner who professionally cleans all items for them. All they really needed to learn was how to operate their own business successfully. Waldow says this, too, was a relatively easy process.
The partners learned plenty from the entrepreneur club at school. "A big goal of the club is to serve as a networking tool to help people meet and learn from others," Waldow says. "Most of the members are MBA students who have actually run a business of their own at one point or another, and several have been very helpful. The club also sponsors events from time to time to help people prepare to run their own businesses, such as an entrepreneurial forum earlier this year which featured talks and tips from 20 entrepreneurs and venture capitalists flown in from around the country."
Waldow says he and Campbell have also learned from the dry cleaner with whom they work.
"We weren't sure what we needed to do about getting insurance for our business, so the dry cleaner explained and added us to his insurance policy as a drop-off station," Waldow says. "He provided us with invoices and taught us how to fill them out properly. He also taught us about the need to ask people about any stains on their clothes when they bring them in for cleaning. That's really important in this business, because the last thing you want is for someone to get an item of clothing back and find a stain still on it."