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Student launches startup company

No one can argue that college students aren’t busy. We balance classes and activities, all while trying to figure out what exactly we’ll be doing after graduation. Now, imagine how busy you would be if you started your own business. Senior Marketing and Business major Jeremiah Skow has done just that. Last week, he launched Vault Wallets, a company based on an idea he had last spring.

Why start a business at the beginning of his last year in college? “The market is at it’s prime and I believe that, if I would have waited any longer, the potential to raise funds would be significantly more difficult,” said Skow. “The market would’ve been flooded.” During spring break last year, Skow was searching for a new wallet, but was having trouble finding exactly what he wanted: something that would be sleek, durable, and block Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Since he could not find exactly what he wanted, Skow and a friend from his hometown of Tipp City, Ohio, went to work.

"With these features [we wanted] in mind, we went to the drawing board and created concepts of our potential wallet," said Skow. "We saw this as an opportunity to invent a wallet that stood out." And stand out it does. The Vault Wallet, as described by Skow, is 3.7 mm thick and is a "stainless steel RFID blocking wallet that features an auto-ejecting credit card slot." "Some credit cards feature a
Radio Frequency Identification Chip," explained Skow. "This poses a threat because there are programs out there that hackers can use on their cell phones, and stand a couple feet away from you, and pick up your RFID signal, and steal money out of your account or steal your information."

By sliding a tab on the side of the wallet, credit card users can partially eject the card. This allows the user to swipe the card without actually removing it from
the wallet, reducing transaction time. This feature does not scratch the card and, so far, Skow has had no troubles with the card getting stuck in the wallet, though he explained that the card would be
very easy to remove if this were to happen. "We have had problems with cards completely ejecting out, but that was in the first prototype," laughed Skow. This problem has since been remedied and does not affect the current version of the wallet.

Skow said that the final concept took six months to conceive, including designing, drawing and three total prototypes. Now, the wallet has been launched on Kickstarter, a website promoting new entrepreneurs. "I’ve backed a couple of projects on Kickstarter and have heard great success stories through many different projects…and believe this was the most cost-efficient way to start a business," Skow said.

Funding on this website from backers will cover all costs of starting up Skow’s business, which otherwise would cost $55,000. Though Skow is not running his business here at ONU (it is run in
his hometown), Skow has gotten feedback from some students and professors. If successful with this business through the spring, Skow and his partner hope to order all of the materials for his product,
including a CO2 laser cutting machine. Then, Skow and his business partner hope to appear on the reality television show Shark Tank. "Shark Tank is a TV show that… allows for entrepreneurs to come pitch their products or services or ideas for products or services," explained Skow. "Whether win or lose, we’d just have put ourselves in front of ten million people." 

Though Skow admits that it is difficult to balance starting a business and finishing college, he believes that it’s worth it. "It’s very difficult, but so is real life," he said. "I just feel like this is preparing me for what’s to come after I graduate."