Jeff Gawronski and Deryl Sweeney II want college students to live as comfortably as possible. So last April, the 2001 graduates went live with Dormbuys.com, an online store offering just about everything students might need to make a dorm room as homey as, well, home. Growth has been steady: The online store stocks about 1,000 dorm-specific items—appliances, technology, bedding, furniture, décor items—and recently received accolades from the Wall Street Journal as the best buy in dorm bedding. Perhaps even more important, Dormbuys.com gets between 500 and 1,000 unique visitors daily.
Gawronski and Sweeney trace their business partnership to their junior year at the University when they joined forces to sell the Mini-Mantle, a bed-mounted shelf invented by Gawronski. But they let the idea drop following graduation and went their separate ways—but just for awhile.
In 2004, the pair quit their jobs to devote their time to the Mini-Mantle—and with great results. The product is now carried by Bed, Bath and Beyond, the Container Store and more than 300 college bookstores coast to coast. Along with brand-name products and, of course, the Mini-Mantle, Dormbuys.com’s product rolls are filled with items from small, niche manufacturers—products that can’t be found at the local Target or Wal-Mart.
“Our vision is to further entrench ourselves in the minds of parents and students preparing for school,” Sweeney says.