Why Wait? Undergrads Indulge Entrepreneurial Instinct

Amanda Zuckerman is a founder of Dormify, a blog and online retail site for young people who want more style in their sleeping quarters. (Joe Angeles)

Oh, the stresses of the college years: classes, papers, problem sets. A number of undergrads have added to their workloads with the balance sheets, vendor relations and publicity efforts required of small-business owners. We highlight two who have been moved by the entrepreneurial spirit.

An XL buiness idea

The sheet size “twin, extra long” is synonymous to dorm living. (Does this mattress size exist outside dormitories?) So, too, is it synonymous with functional but bland linens — a fact of life that Amanda Zuckerman, Sam Fox Class of ’13, refused to accept.

Recognizing a business opportunity, Zuckerman and her advertising exec mom, Karen, launched Dormify.com. The style blog and e-commerce retail site sells all the stylish items for the dorm-room crowd Zuckerman couldn’t find before: chevron-striped duvet covers (in twin XL), ikat pillows and oversized houndstooth shower curtains.

Growing her company while still enrolled in college (studying communication design and marketing) has been challenging but rewarding, she says. “Fortunately, everything I study in school relates to Dormify in one way or another, and vice versa.”

A new bean on the scene

Welcome to Green Bean, one of St. Louis’ first healthy, quick-service restaurants.

“I love brand new customers,” says Sarah Haselkorn, a senior studying systems engineering. “It’s really fun to help them decide what they want and see them get so excited about all of the options.”

Thousands of students (millions, maybe?) have subsidized their college years by working in food service. Haselkorn took it a step further, however: She owns the joint.

When she moved to St. Louis in 2011, Haselkorn couldn’t find the type of healthy quick-eat shops like she loved on the East Coast. To fill the void, she partnered with a friend from her hometown of Washington, D.C., Nick Guzman. Together, they honed their business plan, rounded up investors, and consulted with a chef. Within a year, Green Bean was open for business.

With a focus on healthy eating, sustainability and speed, Green Bean offers a menu of build-your-own salads or wraps as well as prefixed options such as the Seoul Train (with grilled beef, sesame seeds and red pepper sesame dressing) and the Turducken (you can probably guess what’s inside). Haselkorn now spends 15–20 hours at the store, in addition to finishing up her senior year at the university. “Right now my schedule is pretty much class, Green Bean, homework, bed,” she says.

And the name? “We definitely wanted ‘green’ in the name because a big part of our mission is the sustainable, environmentally friendly component,” Haselkorn says. “I remember thinking of ‘Green Bean’ and thought it was really cute. We surveyed friends and family, and Green Bean just stuck!”

Green Bean, the brainchild of engineering student Sarah Hasselkorn and her hometown friend, offers a new option for St. Louisans: healthy food, fast. (Geoff Story)
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