By Avonlea Brown
In 2022, Americans spent $36.9 billion on school supplies. The increasing cost of school supplies and lack of products have now led to a demand for reusable school supplies that students can keep for multiple uses.
Within Cedarville University’s Plaster School of Business, a group of five students created a company that sought to change the one-and-done attitude toward school supplies. Johnny Martone, Ashley Hanel, Kyle Stewart, Jacob Franzen and Luke Bowers worked tirelessly to find a way to create a reusable notebook that can be customized to fit the various study needs of students.
Two notebooks will be offered by UpWrite: A simple spiral notebook called the UpWrite Classic, and a leatherbound notebook called the UpWrite Plus. The pages within the two notebooks will be the same, lined and dotted pages made of synthetic material that does not tear. When ink is applied to the paper, it can be erased by wetting a napkin and wiping the page.
UpWrite is one of four businesses that came out of the Integrated Business Core, or IBC, an opportunity for students in the School of Business to get hands-on experience with creating, marketing and selling a product.
The team decided they wanted to serve their fellow students, the focus being a product that students needed and would want to use.
“We went through a period of conversational research, where we went around chatting with different people, asking them what needs they have,” Martone, a junior Finance major, said. “And most of it revolved around organization and customization at a cost-effective price.”
The name UpWrite is a play on words that speaks to the quality of the notebook and the writer.
“We wanted to keep it simple as well as say something about the product,” Martone said. “The beginning part makes you think of something upgraded or new, and ‘Write’ as in you are writing in the notebook. And if someone is an upright person, even though it is a different spelling, it has a distinguished feel to it.”
Upwrite is one of the smallest teams in the IBC this year, with only five members, which provided opportunities as well as hurdles along the way. Team members performed multiple jobs and held various positions within the company to ensure all the jobs were done in a timely fashion.
“We really have to be specific and intentional with our time because we don’t have the people and time resources to do something that could fail,” Martone said.
An unexpected and unavoidable hurdle to UpWrite’s efficiency was their chosen manufacturer.
“Our manufacturer is in China, which has a 12-hour time difference,” Hanel, an Accounting major, said. “We might send an email and then not get a response until the next day. It’s not something we can fix, just something we have to work around.”
The Upwrite team has mostly focused on getting the product to the student body, but receiving the product from their manufacturer in China took longer than expected. The group opted out of the Thursday Night Live on September 14, where other IBC groups presented their products.
“We found that it’s a little hard for people to grasp what our product is without seeing it,” Hanel said. “So we decided to wait and not confuse people before our product arrives.”
Martone, Hanel and the rest of their team put a lot of emphasis on the marketing side of their process. They made many different videos for the various uses they think people will have for the product to emphasize the customization factor of the notebook. As their launch date gets closer they will begin to release videos online to pique students’ interest in the environmentally friendly and durable study material.
UpWrite hopes to launch in early October and showcase its product to a campus audience first before it seeks to expand to outside campus.
“We’re excited to launch it for the student body,” Martone said. “I think it’s gonna have a good response and I think people will find more uses for it than even we could come up with.”
Avonlea Brown is a junior Broadcasting, Digital Media, and Journalism major from a small town in Maine. She is the co-editor of Campus News for Cedars Student News and currently working towards going abroad to study international journalism. She likes reading, travel, and learning new things.
**Photos provided by Ashley Hanel