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What: Furniture rental company for college students
Who: Russell P. D'Souza and Jon Groetzinger of Evolving Vox
Where: Hanover, New Hampshire
When: Started in 2006
Startup costs: $5,000
Evolving Vox got its name from the Dartmouth College school motto, vox clamantis in deserto, which means "a voice crying out in the wilderness." So when Russell D'Souza and Jon Groetzinger heard the cry of dorm residents as they abandoned their furniture each year, the pair took it upon themselves to provide furniture that cuts down on that waste.
"Students don't want to deal with the hassle of putting [furniture] in storage," D'Souza says. "We realized there's a great market for a furniture rental company that provides everything students need for their dorms."
In summer 2006, D'Souza and Groetzinger used their personal savings to start Evolving Vox. They stocked up on dorm essentials: 24-inch flat screens, DVD players, compact refrigerators and futons. Then they created a website to give students a fast, easy way to place orders. Delivery is free.
While D'Souza says many rental companies see the college market as an afterthought, catering to college students was Evolving Vox's key to success. D'Souza, 22, and Groetzinger, 23, adopted the concept of "temporary ownership," reinforcing a sense of sharing furniture with their student customers, the same way they share a college experience. "It's meaningful that peers are buying from their peers rather than from an impersonal rental business," Groetzinger says.
Evolving Vox hit the Dartmouth College campus with resounding success--2007 sales are expected to reach $250,000. The founders have also received a number of inquiries to start similar services at colleges around the nation. Early this year, Evolving Vox branched out to Brandeis University and Cornell University. They plan to expand to 10 colleges by the end of the next academic year.