This semester a business school class began operating Colonial Promos, a company that sells customized bulk items like t-shirts, water bottles and ponchos to Greek-letter organizations and University departments.
The eight students in management 195 are working with a parent company, On Sale Promos, which already has a relationship with the University of Maryland.
“We want to grow a large, sustainable, student-run business that’s run by students and has the continuity year in and year out,” said Josh Frey, owner of On Sale Promos and husband of Kathy Korman Frey, the professor who teaches the class. “(Colonial Promos) is going to ultimately save money for the school because it is going back to the school.”
Colonial Promos, whose tagline is “by students, for students,” hopes to give 20 percent of all profits to the University – 10 percent to the School of Business and 10 percent as commission to the two GW student interns unaffiliated with the course.
Though the Web site is currently under construction, the company has spoken to between 25 and 50 different buyers on campus. They have secured contracts with organizations including Program Board, the Business School and the Sigma Alpha Mu off-campus fraternity.
The management course was created this year to teach students business theories and put those theories into practice by starting a company.
“Most classes focus on teaching you how to write a business plan, to do market research, how to get financing and read financial statements. But, what happens when you are already financial and successful?” Korman Frey said. “How do you grow a business? That is what this class is about.”
MGT 195 is the only class offered at GW which involves starting a company, and very few of these classes exist nationwide. Josh Frey, a sales associate for On Sale Promos, and Devlin Keating, a 2006 GW alumnus, come to most classes and act as coaches and mentors for the students.
“Devlin comes in to every single class and we work through problems together,” senior Ryan DeWard said. “This is much different than any other class I’ve had at GW because we are going through all the aspects I have learned in other business classes to combine marketing, finance, operations and leadership, how to run a business and how to make it grow.”
The class is broken up into four different teams – executive sale, marketing/branding, technology and recruiting functions. One benefit of the class is its ability to unite people with a different expertise.
Colonial Promos’ parent company, the five-year-old On Sale Promos, sells customized items, giveaways and apparel. The company works with thousands of factories across the nation but normally uses the same 25 factories to supply the merchandise.
“We have an array of different factories across the United States and we buy through them and distribute to the University,” Keating said. “The reason we are able to match our competitors’ prices is because we have established relationships with our top 25 vendors.”
Keating and Josh Frey think that in time, Colonial Promos will ultimately beat out their competitors. They said GW normally uses one of three bulk item vendors for products for events.
“If I can match the products and the price of my competitors and we give 20 percent back to GW, then to me, it’s a no-brainer,” Keating said.
Colonial Promos also offers a line of eco-friendly products such as Enviro Binders, fleeces, plantable Wine Bags, and Seeded Download iTunes Cards that can be planted and will grow lavender.
“We’ve met with the students (from GreenGW),” Josh Frey said. “We have a whole line of eco-friendly green products and, with the school going green there is a whole network of eco-friendly products.”