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Tapping Into College Resources

Need R&D capacity but can't afford it? Turn to creative college students who can give you their fresh, unaffected perspectives.

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This story appears in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When bold furniture wanted to design a new line of contemporary office furniture, it outsourced the job. But instead of outsourcing to a professional studio, it called on design students at the University of Cincinnati's School of Design to come up with some new ideas.

Working with students was a good alternative for Spring Lake, Michigan-based Bold Furniture. "Many designers require retainer fees, and that can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars a month to $10,000 a month. In addition, they'll look for royalties between 1 percent and 5 percent of sales," says co-owner Todd Folkert, 27. "Working with the students, there's really not that significant of an upfront cost. It's pretty much all variable, tied to the success of the product." The $2 million company is in the second phase of the design process and hopes to have a marketable furniture line by summer 2006.

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