March 27, 2014
Sometimes student entrepreneurship also translates into environmental consciousness, job creation and economic vitality. Wipebook, co-founded by Thomas Sychterz, now doing his MBA at HEC Montréal, is a perfect example of successful student entrepreneurship that has produced all kinds of positive spinoff. Not only is the fully reusable notebook environmentally friendly, but the company has also offered attractive career opportunities for other School students and generated business for a Montreal manufacturer.
Wipebook managed to raise over $400,000 in one month through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, after starting out with a goal of just $4,000! According to Olivier Cantin, another HEC Montréal MBA student and the company’s new Director of Business Development, investors were attracted by the simplicity of the concept and the green aspects of the product. The notebook pages can be used over and over again, thereby saving paper.
The company has just delivered its first erasable notebooks, and has racked up more than $500,000 in sales. It is aiming for sales of $4 million in its first year of operations. To support its growth, Wipebook has turned to other MBA students from the School: along with Olivier Cantin, the company also recruited Christine Connelly as Director of Sales and Marketing.
What’s more, the notebooks are manufactured by a Montreal company, giving the city an economic boost.
Even with a marketing budget of near zero, the company has managed to achieve excellent visibility through a number of media giants, including Radio-Canada, CBC, the Globe and Mail and The Gazette. In addition, it will soon be presenting its product to the “dragons” of the CBC Dragon’s Den show.
What future do the student entrepreneurs see for their fledgling product? “For the moment, we’re selling Wipebooks mainly through our website,” says Olivier Cantin. “Now we have to develop distribution channels and a retail network, to keep our growth going.” The founders have their eye on the education sector, along with the arts and design communities and, of course, firms committed to sustainable development.
As further evidence of its sense of social responsibility, the company recently sponsored the HEC Montréal Sustainable Development Challenge, held at the School.