College Cushion LLC was started by three Providence College business students: Mike Cruz, Shane Curran, and Andrew Drogan. It all began in the fourth floor of McDermott during our freshman year. The three of us were hanging out in the room watching a Friars game, when Mike noticed that the seat he was sitting in was uncomfortable. He said “I bet we could design a much more comfortable chair to sit in.” We considered it a joke at first, but then we became intrigued and looked further into it.
When we started conducting research, we found that there was a small market with college bean bags but they were only available for a select group of schools, they also were poorly designed and lacked quality. With support from our parents and close friends, we began the process of trying to enter this particular market with a different approach. We started by making a thorough business plan which included our goals and how we were going to accomplish them. After weeks of analyzing our plan, we presented this to the legal team at Providence College to see if they could steer us in the right direction.
The legal team informed us about Collegiate Licensing Company, which manages the logos of schools throughout the country. After establishing ourselves as an LLC, we spent six long months going through rounds of applications to get collegiate licensing approval. The next step was finding a quality product that we could put together. Many late nights and early mornings were spent communicating with manufacturers overseas about designing a bean bag that checked all the boxes we felt were necessary for a great product. After a few months of negotiations and designing, we finally signed the contract with a manufacturer and began production.
We thought we were ready to launch, but then we learned that there were many more steps before we sold anything. We learned the struggles of website design and development, managing commerce and payment technologies, and about all the various forms of insurance policies that are available for businesses.
The next big hurdle was getting our first big order across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, and up the east coast to the port of New Jersey. We reached out to a logistics company and was completely overwhelmed at the cost, so we thought there must be a better way. We found that we could go about organizing the entire process ourselves, so we did just that. We found a shipping company, import broker, and registered ourselves as the delivery company. This caused us to miss a day of school, but it resulted in the best part of the long journey of College Cushion… finally having a product to sell.
We arrived in New York at 12:00 am and then we woke up at 3:30 am to make it to the port by 6:00 am later that morning. When we arrived at the port we were completely out of place, two small SUV’s in lines of 18-wheelers. When we finally made it into the port, the security gate and distribution desk employees were so confused to see us there, but they ended up laughing about it and were extremely kind to us, which was a surprise. We got shown to our dock and the product was brought out to us and by some miracle everything fit into the two SUV’s that we brought.
We have learned so much throughout this process. Not just about business, but life lessons such as perseverance, creative thinking and to expect the unexpected. This would not be possible without the support from the school and our families. Our plan is to keep expanding and learning more about the business world as we continue to find ways to overcome the challenges we still have to face.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us to get this far!
Mike, Shane, and Andrew