[quote style=”boxed”]Keep finding more things you’re excited about and learning as much as you can about them. It’s not as comfortable as being an expert in what you already know, but you can’t let your knowledge become stale, you have to keep learning and growing.[/quote]
Marissa Hu is the co-founder and CEO of Co-Ed Supply and a current Wharton MBA 2014 candidate, where she is studying Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing. She and her co-founder, Andy Fortson, moved to Philadelphia in August 2012 and launched Co-Ed Supply as a subscription e-commerce business to send college students quality care packages.
Previously, she worked in the Global Business Development group at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in Los Angeles. She helped with the development of the Shanghai Resort opening in 2015, focusing primarily on retail, food and beverage, and entertainment opportunities. She has also previously worked in the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs, in the technology, media and telecommunications industry group, followed by her role on Goldman’s internal communications team.
What are you working on right now?
Last year, my co-founder Andy Fortson and I launched Co-Ed Supply, which is a subscription service that sends college students care packages. We make it easy for parents or college students to sign up and get a care package filled with healthy snacks, toiletries and fun stuff once a month. I’m also a first-year student in the MBA program at Wharton.
Where did the idea for Co-Ed Supply come from?
We were excited about the e-commerce opportunities in the market and realized that the college market was relatively untapped. We remembered how awesome it was to get any kind of package in college, and also wanted to take full advantage of our location in Philadelphia, which is home to so many great universities and just a stone’s throw from many others on the East Coast.
How do you make money?
We charge a monthly membership fee of $20 for care packages. We work to keep our COGS low by building partnerships with brands who are interested in including their products in our boxes to expand their reach in the college market.
What does your typical day look like?
Since I’m juggling class and working on my startup, every day looks a little bit different. A couple hours in class, a break for catching up with friends during lunch, a call with a potential vendor for Co-Ed Supply, class readings and assignments, reaching out to a few brands to talk about opportunities to work with Co-Ed Supply, and a LOT of checking email and Twitter in between. However, I always try to make it to the dog park each day with my boyfriend and our dog if I can, and we make dinner and watch a little TV afterwards to unwind.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think the key is just implementation. Everyone has great ideas, and there’s always enough excitement in the beginning to get it started, but what defines a true entrepreneur is the person with the motivation and drive to see it through to 100% completion.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think all the action in the mobile payments area is exciting to me both as a consumer and as an entrepreneur. I can’t wait to ditch my wallet.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was a busboy in high school. Let’s just say I’m not the most graceful person in the world and I cost that restaurant a lot of dishes. But, I was really hardworking so they were patient and quickly moved me into a hostess position. Above all, I learned how to talk to people and make them happy customers. I think everyone should have the opportunity to work in a service role at some point early on, to help them build a foundation of truly good customer service.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d learn more languages and travel more. I’ve gained invaluable experiences and knowledge from every country I’ve visited and everyone that I’ve met while traveling. I also think it’s super important to develop a better understanding of the culture wherever you visit so you can get a more authentic picture of local life and respect their ways of living.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep finding more things you’re excited about and learning as much as you can about them. It’s not as comfortable as being an expert in what you already know, but you can’t let your knowledge become stale, you have to keep learning and growing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I definitely wasted some money in the wrong places for our business. It’s frustrating when you’re bootstrapping and every dollar counts, but you learn from it and move on.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Tough question! It blows my mind that clean water is still a luxury for some people in this day and age. Let’s fix that. I love seeing what charity: water is doing in this area.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Design for Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. It’s a design book from the late 80s, but it still has some surprisingly relevant and insightful learnings about designing for customer experience.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
@levie – Tweets from Aaron Levie. Funny and geeky commentary on news, startups and other awesome stuff.
@WheresAndrew – Travel tweets from Andrew Evans for National Geographic. He’s always on one adventure or another, a must-follow for anyone with wanderlust.
@Bourdain – Travel and food tweets from Anthony Bourdain. He gets to go to incredible places and eat amazing things.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My dog Juliet jumps on the bed every morning as soon as she sees a flicker of movement signaling that either my boyfriend or I might be awake, with her paws flying everywhere and licking our faces. It’s the best wake-up call and it makes me laugh every time.
Who is your hero, and why?
Joss Whedon. You might know him as the writer for the latest Avengers movie, but he also created Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse, was a writer for Toy Story, and a whole bunch of other amazing creations. (Yes, I’m a giant nerd.) He’s hilarious and quirky and opinionated and not afraid to laugh at himself.
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