[Editor's Note: GeekWire's Rebecca Lovell was one of more than 200 judges at the UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round yesterday. She sent this dispatch about one of the more attention-getting ideas. Also see our earlier post about the 16 finalists.]
Navigating the Seattle Center’s Exhibition hall with some 200 judges and 36 student-led teams at the UW Business Plan Competition, the first booth in the door was tough to miss. This college student (pictured at right) sported a skirt and fashionable bra, and that’s about it. When it comes to pitching your business, a demo is the new PowerPoint, so this was some pretty good marketing.
This innovation is known as JoeyBra. As described by the founders, it’s “a unique pocketed bra design that allows women of all ages to go to dances, parties, or events without having to worry about bringing a purse.”
Party-hopping just got easier. And I’ll admit to being guilty of getting my husband to carry my lipstick and ID at a concert or two, and struggling with iPhone storage at the gym.
The pockets are designed to securely hold ID’s, credit cards, and yes, even your phone. This bootstrapped and Kickstarter-funded product is slated to go on sale at the University Book Store in June, at a discounted $19.99 rate for students (usually available at $29.99, the cost of goods could make for some nice margins for this fledgling business).
It might sound lighthearted, but there are some serious startup smarts behind the project, and it’s hard to not to like teams who are solving their own problem. They’ve identified a demand for the product, particularly among college students. Founders Mariah Gentry and Kyle Barlow met at the UW’s Foster School of Business.
Mariah is a NASA Space Grant Student, finalist in the Wells Fargo Case Competition, and a junior in college pursuing a double major in entrepreneurship and environmental science.
My initial question for these entrepreneurs was around moisture: a known phone and iPod killer. With one of the team members working at REI, they’re looking into sourcing some waterproof material for version two.
Another challenge is retrieving items from these beneath-the-underarm pockets. Strapless tops notwithstanding (and both strapless and 8-way convertible strap versions are available), it could be tough to reach beneath your own clothing to fetch your phone. Apparently their target market of sorority students isn’t terribly shy.
The JoeyBra was one of 16 projects from the competition that advanced to the next round.