School Supplies

Profile of
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2000 issue of . Subscribe »

Black-light posters featuring mushrooms and trance-inducing swirls were absent in Graham Weihmiller's dorm room at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. "There wasn't a Web site for those things [yet]," says the 24-year-old who co-founded Manhattan's Inc. with college buddy Neal Batra, 24, in August 1998-about a year after turning the tassel. Instead, Weihmiller "got a lot of used furniture and went about college existence."

But it wasn't regretful memories of a blah dorm room that spawned the idea for umbrella over (where students can buy furnishings, decorating accessories, gifts and electronics with no shipping charges) and (where attendees of like schools can bid on each other's futons and bean bags). It was more of a "see a niche and fill it" situation.

Weihmiller, who worked in the technology sales equity group for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street after graduation, ran a moving company with some friends in school and dabbled in independent tech consulting. But witnessing daily business-to-consumer Internet successes and realizing the buying power of the college market sparked a yearning in Weihmiller to be involved. Not "an Indiana Jones-type person," he made a well-prepared leap of faith, armed with personal savings and seed funding from two angel investors-a friend and a former professor.

At start-up, was three people making phone calls en masse out of Weihmiller's Upper East Side apartment bedroom. "The echo was one of the biggest challenges," he says. Now 50 employees strong, with pending partnerships and investments, hopes to reach a broader market.

The sad part of expansion?'s last office sported a dorm-room setup, but "that gave way to more desks, unfortunately," says Weihmiller. "We've fallen prey to the corporate environment-but maybe we'll set up another one."


More from Entrepreneur

Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources
Discover the franchise that’s right for you by answering some questions about
  • Which industry you’re interested in
  • Why you want to buy a franchise
  • What your financial needs are
  • Where you’re located
  • And more
Make sure you’re covered for physical injuries or property damage that occur at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business

Latest on Entrepreneur