ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A founder of the student start-up known as Netflix for baby clothes has been named Entrepreneur magazine's College Entrepreneur of the Year, the magazine announced today.
Allen Kim, a senior industrial operations and engineering major at the University of Michigan, launched Bebarang (originally called Bebaroo) last year with Luis Calderon, who is pursuing a dual master's degree in business and natural resources through the Erb Institute. It's a baby clothes rental service that ships parents' brand-name outfits at a fraction or their original cost.
"We are thrilled for Allen and his national recognition as Entrepreneur of the Year," said Mary Sue Coleman, U-M president. "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."
Kim is profiled in the January issue of Entrepreneur, which hits newsstands today. He was one of five finalists. The winner was determined based on judges' scores and online voting. He says he was shocked to hear he won.
"I am still in a state of disbelief," Kim said. "All the finalists were extremely impressive. The magazine told us that only the winner would be notified via email by Sept. 15. I can't count how many times I checked my email that day. I still remember how deflated I was when the clock hit 7 p.m. and my inbox was empty. But at 7:14 p.m., I received the notification. I think all the residents on the floor heard me hollering in elation."
Kim's prize is $5,000 in seed money, which he and his colleagues will put toward efforts to expand to 100 customers by the end of next semester.
"When I graduate in April, Bebarang will be my full-time job," Kim said. "I didn't even go to the career fair."
Kim's win attests to the growing entrepreneurial spirit at the College of Engineering. Through the Center for Entrepreneurship and the TechArb student business incubator, the college encourages students to start their own companies and guides them through the process.
Bebarang was a TechArb company last semester. And Kim and his co-founder Calderon actually met on a trip to the Bay Area sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship.
"We are excited about Allen's success," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs at the college. "Allen is part of a growing community of student entrepreneurs in Michigan and is already helping his friends with his experiences and lessons learned."
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At $180 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments, numerous research centers and expansive entrepreneurial programs. The College plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world-class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Michigan Engineering's premier scholarship, international scale and multidisciplinary scope combine to create The Michigan Difference. http://www.engin.umich.edu/.
The University of Michigan is committed to catalyzing the transformation of our economy by supporting technology transfer, encouraging entrepreneurship, and linking faculty and businesses to spur innovative research. Visit www.innovate.umich.edu