Alumni entrepreneurs help incoming freshmen make dorms feel like home

Two inventions, the Bed Buddy and the Space Maximizer, to be sold during move-in | August 15, 2003

Dorm life is a big adjustment for freshmen entering college this fall. But it will be a lot easier thanks to two Xavier alumni and their innovative products—the Space Maximizer and the Bed Buddy—which they will sell on the residential mall during the freshmen move-in, Friday, Aug., 22 and Sunday, Aug., 24.

Kara Kantner Barr designed the Space Maximizer, a shelving unit designed for the close quarters of a dorm room, as a freshman at Xavier in April 1997. Priced at $118, the unit sits on a desk or table, yet leaves room for a computer and/or workspace. This is Barr’s seventh year selling her product to the Xavier student body.

Former Xavier homecoming king Joe Frank is the creator of the Bed Buddy, a nightstand made of wood with a metal bracket that attaches to a bunk bed, enabling students sleeping on the top bunk to keep an alarm clock, lamp or other items within easy reach. The stand also fits within students’ budgets, priced between $19.99 and $24.99. This is Frank’s second year selling the Bed Buddy, which he is currently in the process of patenting.

Both inventions originated from these alumni’s experiences as students living on campus. Barr says the idea for the Space Maximizer came to her while moving into Brockman Hall. "I didn’t travel lightly, and space was really tight," she says. "My parents and I went looking for a unit to provide storage, but couldn’t find anything to fit on the desk. So my dad’s friend, who was a woodworker, made me something."

After some market research, Barr concluded students’ parents would be her best market. She set up her first booth her sophomore year. Barr says Sandy Eustis, who founded the Xavier Entrepreneurial Center in 1985, also inspired her. "At the time he told me that his goal was for each of his entrepreneurship students to start a business," she says. "I took his goal seriously and made it my own. My business thrived from the start."

For Frank, the need for a Bed Buddy was also purely functional. "I couldn’t see the clock from the top bunk," he says. "So I got the idea for the Bed Buddy. My stepfather, Bob Snode, is a professional carpenter. He helped me design the stand and then make it. But I didn’t think about selling the Bed Buddy until I needed a class project for my entrepreneurial studies class."

The class project was a success, and Frank decided to sell the Bed Buddy during freshmen move-in last year. This year he hopes to sell 150 units, and then to expand the business with the help of his partner, Kent Huxel. He is talking to five other colleges that are interested in selling the Bed Buddy.

Both inventors have gone on to careers beyond booths on the residence mall. Frank graduated in May 2003 with a degree in entrepreneurship, and is a management trainee at Cintas. Barr graduated in 2000 with a double-major in entrepreneurial studies and marketing, and is a proposal writer for LexisNexis.

For more information on the Space Maximizer, contact Barr at 937 545-1149 or visit www.spacemaximizer.com.

For more information on the Bed Buddy, contact Frank at 513 226-0802.