I had the chance to sit down with Tim Connors, a New Jersey native studying at UCLA. Connors is the founder of SoCal Grad Club.
What is your product?
SoCal Grad Club is a package consisting of a cap, gown, and tassel for undergraduate commencements.
How did you come up with the idea for this product?
Last year I was hanging out with people from my entrepreneurship fraternity, Sigma Eta Pi, and one of the guys mentioned, “These graduation outfits are so expensive. We should rent these instead.” So I set a reminder on my phone and started looking into how much graduation gear rents for. That’s where the idea started. After some research, I decided it would be better to sell the product rather than rent to students. A more affordable option is essentially what was needed.
How much is the product?
Students can purchase a package, which includes the cap, gown, and tassel for $25 plus tax. For a limited amount of time a discount code is also being offered. You can use the discount code MEDIUM to get $5 off your purchase. Once graduation is over, students have the option to have SoCal Grad Club purchase the package back for $5, as long as the attire is in good condition. So students can pay $15 + tax out of pocket, instead of the student store price of $39 + tax. The link for purchase is: https://socalgradclub.com/
How much time do you devote to SoCal Grad Club?
In the weeks leading up to the date in which the order of the product was placed, I was putting in between 20–30 hours a week. This is because it is shipped from overseas so there were logistics I needed to know and learn on my own. I had to work with multiple companies in the process. I also put up a website to test the market right away.
Do you have any plans for the future with SoCal Grad Club?
I’m hitting the numbers I want in terms of selling the product, so next year I’m planning to expand to UCSB, as well as add master commencement clothing because the product is currently only for undergraduates. I’d also like to expand to other universities. I eventually want to add something else to my website and change the name of the business. I don’t want it to be restricted to just graduation gear. I’m thinking of lab coats, which is another product students need.
How does this product tie into the person that you are?
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. The product isn’t necessarily a personal thing, but the idea of starting a business is super exciting. I feel more empowered to start other businesses down the road. I’m also a person who is very focused on learning. When I started college, I was extremely academically focused, but have expanded myself to other areas of learning since then. This includes web development and designing motion graphics. I’ve done everything for my business on my own, and this is a result of being self- taught.
Lastly, do you have any advice you would give to others?
If you are interested in entrepreneurship, try to meet and know as many people in the entrepreneurship community as possible. I’ve been really social during my time at UCLA so its really helped with my business. Being in Sigma Eta Pi has really inspired me, especially because of the people. Keith Yoder has really helped me out, and given me advice on what to do. He knows a lot about logistics and operating a business on campus. Furthermore, when people think about entrepreneurship they tend to only think about the tech world or a startup. However, I think the best way to get into the entrepreneurship scene is to think of something simple and just dive right into it.