We caught-up recently with Jake Baron of Casenova, the December 2011 graduate of the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville who developed 22 different models of his one-strap backpack before finding the right formula.
When we first profiled Baron last August (http://www.teknovation.biz/2012/08/08/baron-personifies-importance-entrepreneurial-persistence/), he was preparing for fall semester when the backpack would be available in the UT Book Store and selected other retail outlets. With the 2012-13 academic year nearing its end, we wondered how the first year had gone.
“I’m happy, but not satisfied,” Baron said. “It (Casenova) has come a long way. You don’t realize it takes time to build a brand.”
Noting that he works almost “24/7,” Baron says that “it’s been a great business learning experience. I’ve thrown myself into it.”
It is little wonder that he works around the clock, with Casenova’s manufacturing occurring in China, a broadened product mix, and a second company that he has launched with a partner.
Baron shared with us his Casenova catalog for retailers. It includes the original sling bag in black, pink and royal blue, one- and two-strap backpacks in a variety of colors, messenger bags, a variety of iPhone and iPad cases, and laptop sleeves, The company’s website is http://www.case-nova.com/. Products can also be ordered from Amazon.
“Our sling bag is still the big seller,” he says.
The soft spoken entrepreneur exhibited at the Campus Market Expo earlier this year. It is billed as the largest tradeshow and educational event for the more than 3,000 college bookstores in the country.
“I wanted to do some market research,” Baron says, adding that “we got some good feedback and some orders.”
He’ll be in China much of this month exploring new product offerings that he can promote.
“The college market is seasonal,” Baron explains. Stores typically buy in May, June and early July for fall semester and again near the end of the calendar year for the spring season.
“I want to add 150 to 200 stores this next year,” he says.
In addition to Casenova, Baron and his Chinese manufacturer have partnered to launch a line of art-inspired luggage under the Neo-Cover brand (www.neocover.us).
Baron clearly has the entrepreneurial “bug.”