University of Michigan student named Entrepreneur magazine's College Entrepreneur of the Year
University of Michigan senior Allen Kim, co-founder of an Ann Arbor startup whose business model has been described as "Netflix for baby clothes," was named College Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur magazine, the publication announced today.
Kim, one of five finalists for the national award, won the competition after launching the baby clothes rental service earlier this year. Judges and online voting determined the winner.
His website, first called Bebaroo.com and recently renamed Bebarang.com, is currently beta testing before an official launch sometime next year. Kim hopes to have 100 customers by the time he graduates in April, U-M indicated in a press release. The firm already has a few dozen paying customers.
"My apartment is a sweatshop," Kim told Entrepreneur magazine. "My roommates are always complaining about having baby clothes everywhere."
Kim, an active member of U-M's student-led MPowered Entrepreneurship group, created the online clothing rental service to give parents an affordable option to the expensive cycle of babies growing out of their clothes. From birth to 3 years old, a typical baby needs 16 complete sets of clothes, costing $150 each, he estimates.
The award, which comes with $5,000 in seed money, underscores the momentum for U-M's entrepreneurial movement and illustrates the potential of student-led startup companies.
Photo courtesy of Bebaroo.com
"Throughout the University of Michigan, students, faculty and staff are being creative and innovative, and Allen's honor provides great inspiration for all of our entrepreneurs," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said in a statement.
Bebarang offers parents a chance to rent baby clothes — mostly "special occasion" items — in exchange for a monthly fee. The clothes are either new or gently used, and the company is adamant that gently used clothes will be washed and disinfected thoroughly.
"Parents have been telling us that those special occasion clothes are actually the biggest pain-point," Kim told AnnArbor.com in July. "They almost never use it, but they actually have to buy it because of those special occasions."