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Re(novated) Rand provides new home for re{cycle}

Posted in NEWS on Thursday, October 18th, 2012

[Originally posted by Maddie Hughes on Inside Vandy]

When the renovated Rand space opened last week, it not only added additional seating space and new dining options, but also the first storefront for a student-run business: the bicycle rental company re{cycle}.

The company was founded last year by four Vanderbilt students: then-seniors Juliette Cilia and Nissa Ostroff, junior John Ratliff and sophomore Brett Ungashick, who entered their business plan for an on-campus bike rental in the Vanderbilt Ventures competition last fall.

Vanderbilt Ventures is organized by Vanderbilt Student Government and encourages students interested in business and marketing to gain real-world experience developing a business plan and possibly running their own business. The prize for winning the competition was a $10,000 grant from the university.

In addition, re{cycle} received $9,000 from the Vanderbilt Green Fund, which provides funding for ideas that increase sustainability on campus. Vanderbilt officially owns the company, but re{cycle} says it is completely in charge of all business decisions.

With the grant from the Vanderbilt Ventures competition, re{cycle} says they were able to purchase their first fleet of 20 bikes used for daily rentals. The company said last year they focused on running what they called a “soft-launch” to spread awareness for the business and learn what kind of services students were interested in.

It was through the help of last year’s student body president Adam Meyer that re{cycle} was able to secure the storefront space in the new Rand Center.

“First we just had a desk in the Sarratt Promenade. Adam pushed for us to have our own place. (He) was our biggest proponent,” said re{cycle} Vice President and Cofounder Brett Ungashick.

According to Jack Davis, director of Student Centers, the goal of having a storefront is to provide the business leaders with real-world experience, and to give them the chance to experiment with what is successful and what is not.

“We want to give the students the best dose of reality possible,” Davis said. “It is the full experience. All finances are their responsibility.”

One finance re{cycle} does not have to consider, however, is rent for the space. Vanderbilt provided the storefront as part of its investment in the company. However, Davis said that continued use of the 120 square foot space is contingent on whether or not the business continues to move forward.

“My hope is that we get more student-run businesses we can find space for,” Davis said. “It adds to what is available to students on campus. I am open to making more space available, depending on what the business is.”

Read more about re{cycle}, Vanderbilt Ventures and the Vanderbilt Green Fund here.