Rye grads charge ahead with new device

(Courtesy myBumper)

(Courtesy myBumper)

Tired of your phone losing its charge halfway through the day? Entrepreneurship students and graduates from Ted Rogers School of Management may have the answer: mybumper, a slim, detachable phone case that charges your phone’s battery.

Mybumper offers about 10 hours of extra battery life and is slimmer than any other case on the market at 12.7 mm for iPhone 6/6s and 12.9 mm for iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus. When the phone is fully charged, the battery can be unplugged, detached and stored elsewhere, leaving the phone as slim as it always was.

Melissa Spadafora, who co-founded mybumper last October with her brother, Christopher, said that the team initially stumbled upon the product while testing a similar one.

A manufacturer in China was already in the process of creating the unique phone cases and they quickly got involved. After two months of industry research and competitor analyses, the mybumper team of five created a business idea.

“We liked it, we tested it, it was Apple-approved and then we started to create an online brand for it — the mybumper brand,” Spadafora said. The brand has already racked up thousands of social media followers since its official launch on Dec. 26 last year.

Mybumper has also gained a lot of traction after being featured in WIRED, Product Hunt and MacWorld.

Because the nature of the business is online, Spadafora spends most of her time working on online advertising, whether that’s paid advertisement or through social media, and keeping the customer service channels open. She is currently in her fourth year of Ryerson’s entrepreneurship program and will continue working on mybumper once she graduates.

“I definitely did not enter the entrepreneurship program with the mindset of, ‘I’m going to start my business right away after graduating, or even before graduation.’ Starting a company is fairly difficult while being a full-time student,” Spadafora said. “It wasn’t until my capstone class… where I realized that I didn’t want to go into the corporate life when I graduate.”

Spadafora and her brother assembled a team of like-minded friends with varying degrees of expertise in technology, marketing, web development, sales and customer service, and said everyone worked well together from the get-go.

“It all really depends on if you have the passion for starting your own business and if you truly believe the product, because if you don’t, you definitely won’t work as hard as the team wants you to work,” Spadafora said.

The company hopes to move into the DMZ in the near future and is also training to prepare for the 2016 New Venture Competition on March 28, a Dragon’s Den-style event at Ted Rogers School of Management complete with official pitches, judges and two grand prizes of $25,000.

Spadafora said her advice for budding entrepreneurs is to follow your passion.

“Especially today when we’re graduating and there’s pressure to find a job, a lot of people get stuck in a job that they don’t even enjoy because they need to make ends meet,” she said.

“Without trying, you can’t fail, and without failure, you’re not learning.”

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