As an entrepreneurship and innovation management major at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, Emily Madara, BBA ’22, and fellow student Caroline O’Keefe, BBA ’21 knew they wanted to use their undergraduate coursework and related research experience to start a business.
While shopping with her mother for a new glasses case, Madara noticed that her mom could not fit both a sunglasses case and a regular glasses case in her purse. It was at that moment Madara came up with the concept of the Duo-Case. Needing inspiration for the design, she turned to her friend and fellow member of the Entrepreneurial Student Association (ESA) Caroline O’Keefe, BBA ’21, who designed the initial prototype.
The Duo-Case is an eye or sunglasses case that not only saves space, fitting two pairs of glasses inside, but it is also sustainably made with cactus leather. Creating the Duo-Case jumpstarted Madara and O’Keefe’s career in entrepreneurship, and they created their company, the Sun & Star Collective, with the hope of creating high-quality, affordable, and sustainably-made products.
To turn their idea into a product, Madara and O’Keefe used resources available to them from the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), which helps “Owlpreneurs” develop their ventures through mentorship programs, dedicated workshops, pitch competitions and other educational opportunities.
O’Keefe and Madara leveraged their connections with the ESA to network with other student entrepreneurs, work on different business plans in the 1810 Accelerator Space, and the two participated in workshops to help them sort through business-related issues. One of the biggest highlights of their entrepreneurial journey was meeting other entrepreneurs who are just as passionate about their ventures as the Sun & Star team.
“We utilized student feedback the most,” says Madara.
The team also entered the annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), an IEI-sponsored competition that’s dedicated to helping Temple-made startups through both in-kind service awards and non-diluted cash prizes worth more than $200,000 total. They competed in both the 23rd and the 24th annual BYOBB®; and in 2021, they took home second place in the undergraduate track. This year, they competed in the upper track, and they won third place, competing against graduate students and Alumni.
The Sun & Star team also competed in the fifth annual Changemaker Challenge, which encourages members of the Temple community to develop ventures with a positive, lasting impact. There, they took home the People’s Choice Award.
“The validation you get from being selected as a finalist in these competitions, and talking to mentors, judges and experts in the entrepreneurial community, is a great feeling,” says O’Keefe.
At Sun & Star, they have a clear focus on the issue of sustainability with commercial products.
“Our product is selling convenience, but we are delivering that with a focus on sustainability,” says Madara.
With a holistic approach to sustainability—from donating a portion of proceeds to related charities, to using ethical manufacturers—the Sun & Star Collective aims to create a real impact with their products.
Their advice to future competitors? Use all of the resources available to them through the IEI.
“We attended workshops at the IEI before we even had a formal business plan,” says Madara.
Now, the Sun & Star Collective is aiming to launch the Duo-Case towards the end of 2022 and are working on expanding their product line.
Learn more about The Sun & Star Collective on their Facebook Page.
You can watch the 24th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl on the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute’s YouTube channel and learn more about the IEI at iei.temple.edu.