When it comes to starting a business, many people don’t follow through because of fear or debt. But Brandon Gotlieb, a junior at Ohio State University (OSU), didn’t let those issues scare him away from his goals. As a sophomore, he launched a business called Nxtstor.
“Nxtstor is an online marketplace where those with space — whether it’s a homeowner with a basement, garage, attic, or spare bedroom — can rent out that space to somebody in their community that needs room to store their items,” said Gotlieb.
Now, Nxtstor is expanding its reach, and Gotlieb continues to juggle his growing business and school responsibilities. Here’s how he’s done it.
Coming up with an idea
As a finance major, Gotlieb thought he’d have a traditional college experience and follow a traditional career path: go to school for four years, graduate, and then make his way into the finance industry.
However, just a few months into his college career, OSU launched a business pitch competition.
“I was sitting with a couple of my roommates, and we thought about this competition,” said Gotlieb. “We had this idea for a storage business that we thought would be an interesting pitch, so we threw together a slide deck. We thought that we’d at least get feedback to help us decide whether or not to pursue the idea.”
Gotlieb and his friends ended up winning the competition, getting thousands of dollars in developmental help and $1,000 in cash. It was an important first step in getting financing for the business.
“[Winning the contest] validated our idea, and we got such good feedback that we decided we could start building it,” he said.
Building a business
With a vote of confidence from the competition judges, Gotlieb designed a test for the business. He decided to focus on a niche group with a need for storage space once the school year was over.
“The biggest challenge is educating people about what we do,” Gotlieb said. “It’s like what Uber had to do with its initial customers. That summer, we stored items for international students to get an understanding of what the process would be like. We raised a little bit of money that way and used it to bootstrap the company to where it is now.”
The first round of renters loved the idea, giving Gotlieb and his friends proof that they had a good concept. They focused their efforts on building a website that would connect renters with homeowners and marketing the company, stressing its benefit to communities.
“We’re really concerned with the use of space in urban environments,” Gotlieb said. “We worked heavily with urban planners to figure out the best way to use space.”
With his concern for the environment, Gotlieb positioned Nxtstor as a sustainable and affordable storage solution for people in busy cities and densely populated areas.
Juggling work and school
Entering his junior year of college, Gotlieb is careful about managing his business and school responsibilities.
“I try really hard to not be isolated,” he said. “It’s easy to get distracted by work, but I make sure I get out in the community and hang out with friends and have the traditional college experience.”
Gotlieb said OSU’s supportive staff has made the process easier. Plus, he dedicates blocks of time in his schedule to his growing business.
“I fit in small activities like email when I can throughout the day,” he said. “Then I set aside blocks of time just for work. Having these blocks allows me to be really productive and more aware of my time usage.”
Gotlieb also credited his teammates for helping him with the business. With people dedicated to web development and marketing, he is able to grow the business while enjoying college life.
Right now, Nxtstor has renters and spaces available primarily in Ohio. However, Gotlieb plans to expand the business outside the state.
“We’re still in the early phases, and we’re working through the kinks,” Gotlieb said. “But it’s been cool to see it grow, and people seem excited about the product.”
Although he’s not taking a salary from the business yet, Nxtstor is becoming more established.
“Everything that we get goes straight back to the business,” he said. “We’re pushing it forward and making sure we have a way to grow and attract new customers to us.”
For other would-be entrepreneurs
For students who want to start a business but are intimidated by the idea, Gotlieb recommends reaching out to contacts on campus.
“Just get connected in the community and talk to whoever you can,” he said. “[There are] a lot of students on college campuses that [want] to be entrepreneurs but just don’t know how. … Many colleges and universities have entrepreneurship clubs or programs. Get involved in a group on campus and find some like-minded people who can help you.”
If you have a business idea but don’t know where to start, check out the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization to find partners and sponsors near you.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|