Being a college student means wandering a lot through campus. There are classes to attend, books to check out at the library, los of small purchases to make, cups of coffee to grab and, possibly, packages to pick up at the local Amazon locker.
To help fellow students face this endless pilgrimage, two juniors at Northeastern University – Connor Gross and Giovanni Armonies-Assalone – have teamed up to found Cardly, which sells millennial-friendly stick-on pockets that students can add to their phone to have their IDs and credit cards always handy. Customers have responded well, according to the co-founders: since they’ve started the company in April 2015, Cardly has sold a little over 25,000 phone pockets, making an annual revenue that surpasses six figures.
Before starting Cardly, Gross and Armonies-Assalone have both studied abroad for a semester (Gross in London, Armonies-Assalone in Greece). They met each other thanks to an International Business class at Northeastern. Right on, they started sharing ideas related to their common passion for entrepreneurship, but nothing happened until the spring semester of their freshman year. One day they were hanging out in the dining hall, listening to a friend showcasing her new, $40-priced phone case, when Gross noticed something.
“The funny thing is that she was actually covering it up with some random, real-estate groups phone pocket,” Gross said. The fact that his friend was willing to cover her expensive phone case with a random phone pocket made Gross realize two things. First, phone pockets are valuable to people. And second: “Maybe we can go and design more attractive ones,” Gross said.
Indeed, the value of Cardly has to do mostly with the different illustrations they offer on their phone pockets. After all, there are plenty of alternatives out there, including the countless options listed on Amazon with prices ranging from $4.99 to $38 (and if brand and style are important to you, even Kate Spade sells phone pockets).
Currently, Cardly sells 20 different designs paired in couples – meaning, customers spend a minimum of $8.99 and get a bundle of two pockets. Images are definitely 20-something friendly: avocado & pineapple, mandalas, a marble and a galaxy design, animals and floral patterns. After researching which images will be more appreciated by students thanks to a Facebook group, the company hired a designer to implement the illustrations Gross and Armonies-Assalone came up with.
As next steps for the company, Gross said that Armonies-Assalone and he will take advantage of the co-op program offered by Northeastern – which let undergrads alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment – to focus only on the venture.
“Giovanni and I are going to take this from something we were doing on the side, between classes, to something that we really invest six to eight months on really full-time,” Gross said.