2016 SEP Pitch Competition Profile - Third Place
Emily Bocchino’s company, Campus Thrift, started with the search for a suit.
“In debate team you need to dress up and look professional. I was having a hard time finding anything [I could afford],” explains Bocchino. “I was at a yard sale and found a $10, never-been-worn Calvin Klein suit.
Immediately, Bocchino realized there was more than just a professional outfit available for purchase. There was a feeling of pride at stake. The suit was a particular victory for Bocchino, whose experience growing up in a single-parent home taught her to value frugality.
“I could still look amazing and feel cool in a suit that I got for $10. I wanted to be able to give [that feeling] to other college students.”
Thus, Campus Thrift was born the day before her 18th birthday. The online company allows students to connect through a safe marketplace to buy and sell school supplies, clothing, dorm furnishings, and other college essentials.
Bocchino combines her professional drive with a bubbly, fun personality. She’s candid about the occasional struggle all students face between chasing professional ambitions and longing to be a kid for just one more summer. Fortunately, she found both work and play opportunities during WBENC’s Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP).
“I met the world’s most amazing girls,” she says. “I don’t really have a lot of girls to look to who are my age to say, ‘We’re doing this together’...[SEP] was like summer camp for businesswomen. We really want to keep up with each other.”
The highlight of the week for Bocchino was the pitch competition—in part, of course, because she won third place. She notes that the chance to see how her cohort had improved their pitching skills since the beginning of the week demonstrated SEP’s value. In addition, she was moved and encouraged by the congratulations from fellow student participants.
“This conference for real, literally changed my life,” says Bocchino. “Just from a business standpoint, my mentors at Ericsson were able to give me a team of interns. My other women-owned business sponsor [Cathi Coan of Techway Services]...introduced me contact at Microsoft and Dell because she really believed in my idea. It was almost a second mom experience....I’m going to come to them with questions and ask for help long after the conference.”
In fact, Kelly Myers and Anisha Jackson of Ericsson have already taken great strides to continue their support of Campus Thrift.
“When Emily shared her business concept with our team at Ericsson, we were immediately inspired by her vision,” Myers wrote. “We felt as an ICT company we could support more than just Emily’s pitch and experience at WBENC. We felt we could bring Emily an extraordinary opportunity through our Global University Relations program, an opportunity that would give her access to support from Ericsson’s Summer 2016 Interns who have come to Ericsson from top university programs across the United States.”
Over the summer, the Ericsson team helped Bocchino with her site build-out, social selling applications, and promotional marketing strategies and solutions. Ericsson has also committed to helping Bocchino launch her platform by providing her with advertising space on our global University Relations portal.
Working with a staff of interns has helped Bocchino prepare the next step for Campus Thrift: the launch of the new website later this month, just in time for the new school year. Bocchino’s team has also helped her overcome a surprising hurdle for someone her age.
“With the prize money, I’m planning on focusing a lot of social media. For a millennial, I’m really bad at it,” she confessed. “We’re [also] going to do care packages with things college students need, like energy drinks and notebooks, and we’re going to give them to the first 50 or 100 users.” She also plans to hire a marketing consultant, probably through Ericsson, to guide her company through its next phase.
Whatever happens next for Campus Thrift, Bocchino promises to keep WBENC informed.
“I really can’t say thank you enough. I feel like I’ve grown as a person, not just as a businesswoman.”