One of the most traditional methods for family members to maintain a connection with their college student while they’re away at college is to send a care package. Here at Clarkson, a pair of brothers has taken the concept of a care package and turned it into a flourishing business that makes the process easier for family members and ensures that students receive their goodies in a timely fashion.
Dylan Practico ’21, an innovation and entrepreneurship major, and Brandon Practico ’24, a business studies major, continue to expand the business Dylan founded as a first-year Golden Knight. We spoke with them about College Care and all that goes into providing a convenient care package service for Clarkson students.
How did this business come to be and when was it started?
Dylan: When I was a freshman in Professor Marc Compeau’s class, we were tasked with creating our own business and making it a reality. I was in a group with three other people, and we began the early stages of developing the business.
The following year, I took another course taught by Professors Erin and Matt Draper. One of my group members joined me in this course, and throughout it, we focused on figuring out our target market and how to reach them. We were able to sell a few care packages, but not as many as desired. After this course, I bought in the other group member.
My goal after these classes was to make this business my full-time job while at school. To do this, I had to expand my customer base and find an easy way to reach them. I discovered the Clarkson University Parent and Family Association Facebook page, and this is what fueled the large influx of customers. I began asking customers to leave a review on the Facebook page so other parents and family members could see our product, and that is when it started taking off.
Now in our third year, we have customers recommending us independently when they hear of families who want to do something to lift their students’ spirits.
What is your business all about? How does it work?
Dylan: Our business is centered around helping students and their families bridge the gap between home and school. We provide family members with a wide variety of personalized care packages that can be delivered directly to the student’s residence hall.
We deliver packages for any occasion, such as birthdays, sick days, thinking-of-you, and holidays like Easter and Halloween. Customers are able to contact us through email, and we provide them with options for purchase. They then send us the information and payment all online, and we deliver the care package on the desired date.
How has your business evolved over time, including your role in it?
Dylan: In the first year of business, our sales were $250. Last semester alone, the sales reached $4,000. We have grown exponentially each semester, and our total sales reached $15,000 after last semester. My role in the business developed from one of the founders to the only remaining founder and the current owner.
How successful do you consider the business to be?
Dylan: The business is very successful. It is still growing to the point where we have one or two deliveries just about every day so far this semester.
Personally, my favorite indication of our success is how many of our customers have come back after purchasing one of our care packages. This, along with the reviews that customers leave on the Facebook page, shows the impact our product has had on both family members and students.
What is your favorite part about your business?
Dylan: Being able to help students feel connected to their family even when they are so far away from home. I remember what it was like my freshman year, and I can relate to how they feel. Being able to surprise students with a birthday cake, some of their favorite candy and a handwritten card with a message from home makes me feel like I am making a difference.
Do you have any future goals or hopes for the business?
Dylan: My future goals for the business are for it to continue to grow each semester, and pass it on to my brother, currently a freshman at Clarkson, so he can do the same. I have received requests to deliver to other campuses, mainly SUNY Potsdam, which is the next route we have started to take.
How did you get involved in this business, and how long have you been involved?
Brandon: My senior year of high school, I started to get involved with College Care. Although I wasn’t at Clarkson to physically help with the business, I learned about the basic idea and helped expand ideas to help the business grow. We applied for the Lewis Income Share Agreement, which was a great way to learn about the business.
Since I started at Clarkson in August, we have seen an increasing demand for our service. I have helped with making deliveries and coming up with ideas to expand our business.
What have you learned by being a part of the business thus far?
Brandon: Customer feedback and relationships are crucial. We pride ourselves on having a strong connection with our clientele and making sure they have a positive experience with College Care.
Do you foresee any crossover between what you do for the business and your studies?
Brandon: The business is a great learning opportunity. College Care is a real-life experience that allows us to learn from something we are passionate about. We have been fortunate enough to have a successful student-run business that applies what we learn in the classroom to the real world.
What do you hope to see happen with the business in the future?
Brandon: I hope to continue to increase sales and revenue like we have in the past. I am also excited to bring some of my own ideas to College Care. I think it would be beneficial to further expand our service to neighboring colleges such as SUNY Potsdam.
What is it like working with your sibling?
Brandon: Working with my brother makes it easier for both of us to express our opinions. We’ve been able to share and build off of each other’s ideas, which has been a great experience. It’s important to have someone who isn’t afraid to give constructive criticism on an idea so it can be modified and expanded on.
Anything else you’d like to add about yourself, your business or Clarkson?
Dylan: I am truly grateful for the education that Clarkson has given me and the doors that it has opened for me. Many of my professors have had a major impact on my life, and for that, I would like to say thank you.
Brandon: I would like to mention how appreciative we are to have such great clientele who appreciate and love our services. It has been incredible to see my brother create and grow College Care throughout his four years at Clarkson, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the future!