Ben Grosse, a second-semester business major at the University of Connecticut, currently runs a nationwide, $100,000 a year business, mXer Audio, which sells earbuds with customizable, interchangeable parts to minimize earbud malfunctions.
“We looked at a pair of earbuds and they were essentially made up of five parts, and every time your earbuds break it's just one part, whether it’s the main jack or left earbud or right earbud,” Grosse said. “So why should we sacrifice the whole thing?”
Grosse said that in 2015, his parents refused to pay for new earphones each time a faulty pair broke, so he and his hometown friend Bharat Pulgam decided to find a way to solve their problem. In 2016, he and Pulgman, now mXer’s CEO, conceived their first prototype that, unlike other earbuds, allows consumers to replace defective parts.
In August 2016, their first order of 500 earbuds was prepared to be sold nationwide, Grosse said.
“We even drove to the airport to pick (the order) up,” Grosse said. “Just holding that and opening it up and seeing all the earbuds was absolutely phenomenal.”
Since mXer’s first sales, the company currently makes about $100,000 a year, Grosse said.
With almost three years of business experience, Grosse is Director of Sales for mXers. Grosse’s job entails managing the company’s sales on a wholesale platform, working with retailers and researching strategies for efficient pricing and packing, he said.
“I was really good at connecting with the consumer and from networking events and pitch events, I was great on stage. I was very forthright with people,” Grosse said. “When it came time to choosing positions, it was clear I had a lot of experience in selling a lot of our products in large quantities.”
Grosse said he credits a majority of the company's success to the assistance he has received at UConn.
“It’s ridiculous how many cool people I’ve met. Even this past semester I’ve had a ton of opportunities,” Grosse said. “Peter J. Werth (Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) donated a 22.5 million dollar grant and I’ll be working with that. It’s great here to be growing the entrepreneurship community.”
Grosse said he also attributes his success to Co-Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium Professor David Nobel and Managing Director of UConn’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium Kathy Rocha.
“They were instrumental in getting the business really started,” Grosse said. “It was so very early in the process so a lot of the work had been introduced.”
Grosse said he considers his role a full time job but still finds juggling college and career to be gratifying.
“I like being a regular kid. A lot of times people don’t think I’m a kid because I do all of this stuff, but that’s completely wrong. I’m just as much a college kid as everyone else,” Grosse said. “It’s all a lot of juggling, but you to learn love it.”
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.