Kaylyn Kubishak started her business EDiT.APPAREL last summer, taking second-hand clothing for men and women and upcycling it to a more modern fashion.
Kubishak on Nov. 13 explained to Sue Fuller, the University of Wisconsin-Stout 2019 Cabot Executive in Residence, and Scott Cabot, an alumnus who started the Cabot program, exactly what she did wrong when she started her business.
“I was definitely not charging enough for the product. I was making enough money to cover my expenses, but I wasn’t paying myself enough for the effort I was putting into the products. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit,” said Kubishak, of Osseo.
She gave a presentation on her business as part of a competition featuring failed student business ideas.
Fuller, with input from other judges, chose Kubishak to receive the $1,000 first prize. The award was made possible by RetailRealm, a leading multinational retail-centric software development and distribution company, and Fuller’s company.
The competition was sponsored by UW-Stout’s School of Management.
Kubishak said she’d create a website and a workshop space if she won the award.
In 2017 Fuller founded the startup handbag and accessories company Oliver Thomas. As this year’s featured Cabot executive, she spent several days on campus meeting with students, faculty and staff and gave a presentation Thursday, Nov. 14.
Fuller urged Kubishak to start selling her items on the e-commerce site Shopify. “I started my whole business on Shopify,” Fuller said. “It is a super low barrier to entry.”
Kubishak, a senior in retail merchandising and management, who graduates in May, competed against two other business pitches.
Michael Hilliger, a junior entertainment design animation and game design and development major from Whitewater, shared the business he started last summer drawing caricatures called Michael’s Art Stop. He noted the real value of the business was long-term impressions of his artwork. “This is a very good starting point for me to find out how to monetize art,” he noted.
Brad Osatiuk, of Medford, and Cam Ambrust, of Maple Grove, Minn., both seniors majoring in mechanical engineering and graduating Saturday, Dec. 14, talked about a custom design machine company they started in December 2018.
“Starting a business took a lot of time, a lot of equipment. Tools and software were necessary that we didn’t really anticipate,” Ambrust said. “We really underestimated the time and money it would take to start this kind of business.”
Even though that idea failed, the two students plan to start a new company offering custom controls and process solutions to help businesses update existing automated equipment and manufacturing processes.
Kubishak said she was pleased to win the award. “The other businesses were really good and were presented really well,” she noted.
Fuller said the judges looked at the feasibility and proof of a concept, marketability and feasibility of success. “Reusable and recycling vintage is really growing,” Fuller said. “Kaylyn is hitting a growing market. She’s hitting it at the right time.”
Scott Cabot told the competitors they all did an excellent job. “It’s a brave thing you just did to open yourself up to be judged,” he said. “Welcome to the world. Win or lose. It’s not that you get knocked down. It’s if you can get back up. Don’t let what happens today discourage you at all.”
Fuller told the students that just two months before starting Oliver Thomas she had an idea for totes that failed. “Out of every piece of feedback you get, think about it and think how you will move forward,” she said. “You are all very talented. You are entrepreneurs in your hearts.”
Chuck Bomar, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management, said he worked for a couple of start-up companies that failed. “We’re all going to fall down,” he said. “It’s about how quickly you stand up and get running again.”
Kubishak was also the Cabot Student Ambassador, a new position created this year to showcase the university’s spirit of entrepreneurship, one of this year’s themes of the Cabot Executive in Residence. As the student ambassador, she had a one-on-one mentoring session with Fuller as well.
This is the 35th year of the Cabot Executive in Residence Program, which is named in honor of Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer, and Scott Cabot’s father.
Kaylyn Kubishak makes her presentation on her apparel business Nov. 13 at UW-Stout.
UW-Stout student Michael Hilliger makes his business pitch Nov. 13.
UW-Stout students Brad Osatiuk, at left, and Cam Ambrust talk about the custom controls and processing business they plan to start after they graduate in December.