Northwestern student-run company takes the stress out of move-in day

September 04, 2013|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | For RedEye

Good news, incoming college freshman at Northwestern University: the stressful, exhausting process of moving into dorms just got a lot easier, thanks to brand-new student-run company RezEssentials.

Instead of picking up important items like a mini-fridge or a futon from the store and schlepping it to school along with thousands of other students on move-in day, students now can pre-order their dorm items online from RezEssentials, and the company will deliver them to the dorms before they get to campus.

“The reason we felt there is a market for RezEssentials is that move-in day is very stressful for new students and their parents,” said 20-year-old Wendy Cyffka, incoming junior and former CEO of RezEssentials. “It seems silly that so many people go through the same hassles with the same questions: ‘How do I get my things into my new room? Should I buy large, bulky items after arriving on campus, or have them shipped? What will fit in my room? What do I need?’ ”

RezEssentials is one of seven student-run companies overseen by Northwestern Student Holdings, the school’s student-run holdings portfolio that operates through Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship.

Although it wasn’t easy to market the new service to students who haven’t arrived on campus yet, RezEssentials has already sold orders to about 100 customers since it started taking orders in early August by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ve been seeing really effective social media marketing, and it’s been really interesting because that’s all I hear about in economics class,” said 20-year-old Jay Chung, incoming junior and the company’s current CEO.

RezEssentials is also bringing in new customers with a program called RezAmbassadors, which gives students discounts off their own orders in exchange for sharing information about the company on social media.

Chung and the three other student employees at RezEssentials will be moving all of the orders into the dorm rooms themselves before freshmen arrive on campus on Sept. 16. They’ve also enlisted moving help from employees of BoxCo., another Northwestern Student Holdings company, and a few of their friends.

“We’re very excited for it,” Chung said of move-in day. “I think it’s going to be a good workout. I’m happy to do it because it’s my business, and we’ve worked really hard to make it happen--for me to move boxes for freshmen.”

Cyffka said she and the other students behind RezEssentials had the confidence to launch the business because it’s a company that makes sense.

“Now, when we tell people about the company, the upperclassmen say, ‘That would have made my life so much easier when I was a freshman!' ”

RezEssentials will be taking online orders until Sept. 8. After that, the company will be selling a “limited number of products” at RezEssentials tents on campus during Wildcat Welcome Week, Northwestern’s weeklong freshmen orientation.

Erin Vogel is a RedEye special contributor.

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