This winter, 2 students in the College of Business and 1 in the College of Hospitality Management, along with fellow collaborators, will officially launch Rabbit — a catalog of experiences tailored to each individual user based on their interests and a place for businesses and organizations to break free from the limitations of conventional advertising. Starting with an idea and making it a reality is the kind of opportunity that is available and supported here at JWU.
After his shift at a local café, Andreas von Sachsen-Altenburg ’18, a German-American student in the BSBA Entrepreneurship program and founder of Rabbit, was brainstorming new ideas to help publicize the café with little to no marketing budget. On his walk, he stumbled upon a small festival only a few blocks away. He asked himself, “Why didn’t I know this festival was happening? I love festivals.” Ah-ha. In that moment, Rabbit was born.
“On Rabbit, users create profiles containing their interests and preferences,” says von Sachsen-Altenburg. “Rabbit then takes feedback provided by other users and matches the user with experiences that they would enjoy.”And like rabbits, this Rabbit also multiples quickly as more users engage with the website and submit feedback.
Through his coursework and access to knowledgeable faculty and resources in JWU’s Entrepreneurship Center, von Sachsen-Altenburg saw an opportunity to flip the traditional advertising model and could do it while earning academic credits toward his JWU degree.
Instead of brands actively risking resources to place themselves in front their target audience, Rabbit leads them to their real audience.”
Once the business plan was underway, von Sachsen-Altenburg partnered with Business Administration major Alexis Kievning ’18 and brought on Hotel & Lodging Management major Antonello Froio ’19 as an investor to help further develop Rabbit.
“Working with eager and visionary student entrepreneurs is a very rewarding experience,” says Mehdi Moutahir, associate professor and department chair in the College of Business and faculty advisor to the students behind Rabbit. “Faculty advisors serve as a sounding board and help students work through different business models.” Students receive a small stipend and can qualify for a start-up grant to help support business costs. Rabbit was one of the start-ups that received venture funding from JWU.
“The Entrepreneurship Center also offers students private work space, storage and services like graphic design, which has been instrumental to building our business,” says Kievning. “This combined with valuable guidance from JWU faculty is helping make Rabbit a reality.”