Story originally posted on Feb 19, 2013 on The California Aggie
By Alyssa Kuhlman
A loud truck blaring music pulls up outside the house where Mike Eidlin, a third-year economics and Japanese double major, sits with his friends. Girls in bikinis hop out, passing out free Monster energy drinks.
No, this isn’t your average frat party.
After Eidlin did his research, he discovered it’s actually a little something sweet called product sampling.
“[Product sampling is when] the [company] gets the products into the potential users’ hands; it’s a very efficient form of marketing,” Eidlin said.
Eidlin, a member of Delta Sigma fraternity, decided to start his own company, GreekDrop, using this strategy of product sampling.
“We feature clothing, accessories, events, bicycles, hotels, but all [at] discounts. For people who want something familiar [to compare it to], think about Groupon or Gilt.com or JackThreads, but for Greek life members,” Eidlin said.
Liz Zimmer, a third-year mechanical engineering major and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, loves the idea of having an online catalog where Greek students can score deals.
“I will definitely use this site when it gets launched. My twin brother goes to UC Irvine and the only way I can visit him is if I fly,” Zimmer said. “When this site gets going I will definitely look into cheaper airline tickets so I can visit him more often.”
Eidlin first incorporated GreekDrop in August, putting in his paperwork to the Secretary of State after researching from June through July on how to make the idea of deals on any and every products for Greek students a reality.
“I did my research and found out there wasn’t already something going on like this,” Eidlin said.
Eidlin then applied to a start-up accelerator in December called Davis Roots. Run by two UC Davis professors, including entrepreneurship specialist Dr. Andrew Hargadon from the Graduate School of Management and a CEO, Davis Roots is going to help Eidlin officially launch his company this March.
“[They] take a small company that still isn’t really running yet, just an idea, and help them become established. They are going to give me office space in downtown, and that’s where I’ll have my interns or employees work at,” Eidlin said.
Currently the program is gearing up with clients and student customers in order to rev up a solution to the needed revenue cycle, Eidlin explains.
“Right now, it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. We need users for them to buy our clients’ goods. We have our students who are users, and we have our clients who are brands. We can list all the brands we want, but if we don’t have people to buy them, then it’s not going to do us any good,” Eidlin said.
Eidlin currently has a team of students helping him fuel GreekDrop, and hopes to expand with more interns and employees.
Eliot Shoet, a first-year computer science major, works as Eidlin’s web designer and programmer.
“I met Mike through [the ASUCD entrepreneurship] competition and then after I presented my project, he contacted me,” Shoet said.
Shoet is one of many students who are helping to build GreekDrop before the official launch in March when Greek students will be able to order online from it.
Shoet is responsible for helping prepare the website for smooth running and making it ready for customers once March hits.
“[We want to] set up a site that’s easily scalable, so that our site can know how to handle many servers,” Shoet said.
Eidlin has become busy with balancing school and GreekDrop, and admits that while it may be hard starting a business, he doesn’t regret the exciting experience.
“It’s always on my mind. I’m probably spending more time on GreekDrop than school, which is why I convinced my dad to let me defer next quarter so I will be able to work on this full-time,” Eidlin said.
Taking next quarter off and also having the summer to test GreekDrop’s productivity and success will allow Eidlin to see if he should continue with the company or return full-time to school, studying investments and finance.
While Shoet does not get paid, he does get experience as an intern with the promise of pay once the company officially launches.
Eidlin, who was born in Tokyo to a Russian father and Japanese mother, grew up speaking Japanese fluently alongside English. He aspires to use his Japanese background to contact business clients in Japan and further spread the benefits of GreekDrop internationally.
For now, Eidlin looks forward to taking a break from his Japanese classes and focusing solely on reaching out to more clients and students for GreekDrop.
“Business opportunities are few and far between, and I don’t wanna ‘half-ass’ school and ‘half-ass’ business relationships, because there are gonna be people who are counting on me,” Eidlin said.