By: Justin Taubman ’16 MBA Candidate
The next startup competing in the Final Round of the Pitch Dingman Competition on February 16 is Uboard. I had the opportunity to speak with Natalie Urban, the creator and founder of Uboard, a custom dorm bed headboard manufacturer. This creative startup started in the same place Facebook started, a Freshman dorm room. Although Uboard may not be a social network, the startup has an innovative product nonetheless.
When Natalie moved into her freshman dorm room she recognized that dorm rooms were very bland. In an effort to spruce up her room, Natalie created what would become the first Uboard prototype. The Uboard Natalie made for her room created a lot of buzz on her floor. The idea to develop a business behind her custom Uboard came after she attended a retreat sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers. At the retreat, Natalie’s team used the headboard as a solution to the following prompt: solve a day-to-day college problem. Her team won the retreat competition and validated her business idea.
Natalie employed the help of her friends and began selling the boards via social media during her sophomore year. Uboard now has its own e-commerce website, www.uboard.biz. The business is being marketed by commission based brand ambassadors and through social media. The biggest issue Uboard has faced is realizing the seasonality of their product. They have plans to try and overcome this problem by introducing new features and add-ons to the headboard such as USB ports, speakers and changeable headboard covers.
Natalie reminded me that she and her colleagues are still in college. They are balancing the complications of running a business and fulfilling orders, while completing their classwork, and trying to have a fun experience. All of the finalists are struggling to figure out this balance and I believe they all should be congratulated on their success and discipline. Make sure to come and see Uboard and the other finalists at the Pitch Dingman Competition on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Colony Ballroom, Stamp Student Union.