Meet the Entrepreneur of 2010 Award Winners

College Entrepreneur of 2010: Allen Kim

Allen Kim of Bebarang
Allen Kim of Bebarang
Photography by David Johnson
Entrepreneurial idol: Larry Page.

Helpful reading: The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.

Essential to success: Establishing and keeping momentum and customer validation. An entrepreneur is … a visionary with a hunger for change and the guts to jump.

To relax: I take long bike trips to nearby cities on the weekends. It's a great reflection time.

Goals for Bebarang: We want to be everywhere, to help parents all over the world worry a little less about clothing their children.

2009 Winners
Established: Skullcandy's Rick Alden

Emerging: Clean Air Lawn Care's Kelly Giard

College: 3SecondReceipts' Bradley Ericson

College seniors skip class for plenty of unproductive reasons, but not Allen Kim. An industrial operations engineering major at the University of Michigan, he and Luis Calderon have been playing hooky to persuade investors to part with around $500,000 for Bebarang, their startup that Kim describes as a "Netflix for baby clothes." (In fact, we chatted with them on a drive back from some pitch meetings in Chicago.)

 

Kim's "aha" moment: Last year, "my aunt, who had a baby, was complaining about how expensive baby clothes were. And I love Netflix. I thought there had to be a way to combine these two things."

After some serious research, which included discussions with more than 100 moms, it really came down to the numbers.

"It's a $25 billion industry," Kim says. "The average kid outgrows baby clothes 16 times, which works out to be about $150 every two months on things that might be worn just a few times."

Party clothes cost the most but are worn the least. Bebarang offers special occasion baby clothes from premium designers like Burberry and Ralph Lauren.

"Moms will save money, and their babies will still look great," he says. "It's a win-win."

The rental rate for new clothing items is 50 percent off the retail price. For example, a Burberry infant polo dress would rent for $25 a month. ("Gently used" rentals are as much as 80 percent off retail.)

Kim and Calderon hope to officially launch their website this quarter, and they will use the $500,000 in capital to lease a distribution center, build up inventory and brand relationships with baby clothing companies and hire manpower to support roughly 1,000 customers for at least a year.

Their beta site already is off to a good start. Hundreds of moms are signed up, and the rental model seems to be working. A downside? "My apartment is a sweatshop," Kim admits. "My roommates are always complaining about having baby clothes everywhere."

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Jennifer Wang is a staff writer at Entrepreneur magazine in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the January 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Envelope Please... The Entrepreneur of 2010 Awards.

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