CYstarters Spotlight Story: Home Sweet College Home
By Maggie Larson, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship
This story is part of a series featuring each of the eight startups in the CYstarters summer cohort. Each team gets the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,000 or up to $12,000, along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.
After graduating high school, one of the most anticipated experiences is moving to college and finally becoming self-reliant, independent, and completely rule-free. With that comes the responsibility to fend for yourself and that can be a huge adjustment, especially from having someone look after you for the past 18 years of your life.
For some students, college life is easy to get used to. However, many students still struggle with the transition.
And for the latter, Megan Sweere has come up with a solution.
How do you turn a college town into a college home?
Similar to countless of other students, Megan didn’t find the shift to college life to be as easy as anticipated. She was far from home and in an unfamiliar town. After her freshmen year, she didn’t know if she even wanted to return to Iowa State or if Ames was the place she could continue to call “home” for 3 more years. Despite her many doubts, she returned sophomore year and finally started to get involved on campus and in the community. This really opened her eyes to all the resources Ames and the university had to offer — things she wished she knew about all along.
This is what sparked her idea for Home Sweet College Home. She didn’t want any other students to have go through the same struggles in finding comfort in an unfamiliar, college town. She wanted to make a difference and knew that with this idea, she would.
What is Home Sweet College Home?
Home Sweet College Home offers college care packages to parents for their son or daughter attending school. The bundles include tips and tricks on how to get to know your university and make the best of your college experience, combined with the necessary items every college student needs. There are packages for every occasion: Tailgater’s Toolkit, Back to School, Stress Relief, and Get Well Soon — each one carefully and meticulously put together to create the perfect blend of items.
In select locations (Ames, Iowa City, and Cedar Falls), you can even choose to include locally curated products from the local businesses. Not only does this make the student feel more at home, but also benefits the local community. Additionally, parents can feel more at ease knowing that their child is getting the supplies and information they need to help them succeed in college.
In a recent interview with Megan, she brought us up to speed with her business and everything it took to get her there — the trials, tribulations, and of course, the successes.
Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?
Yes — It is something that I always wanted to pursue but I never thought that now would be the time I would actually do it. I constantly found myself daydreaming about ideas for potential products while working typical office jobs. When I finally landed upon Home Sweet College Home, it just felt better than the others — like it could go somewhere and I knew I had to follow through with it.
Now I look at everything I’ve done and can’t believe how much I have accomplished. I actually executed it. I am business owner.
How has your business grown since you started?
When I began CYstarters, all I had was a website but my business has come so far since then. We now have all of the packages figured out, we have social media up and running, we have inventory, we have local businesses on board, we have a newsletter, and the right following — everything has really come together.
What has made you successful so far?
Something that has made me successful is that I am really passionate about my idea. Knowing that it helps a lot of people and adds value to several different groups truly motivates me. It helps foster local businesses, makes students feel more at home, and gives parents a certain security knowing they can still play a role in their child’s life even when they’re away at school.
Additionally, being in the CYstarters program, alongside other people who are going through the same crazy experience as I am, is super encouraging. Seeing what they accomplish week by week pushes me to work that much harder.
What is the future of your business?
In the next few years, I want Home Sweet College Home to expand throughout the Midwest. In the long-run, I envision it being nationwide at every university with student reps on each campus.
In addition, I want to help other entrepreneurs break in to the college market by placing their products into the packages. That would be so rewarding to me.
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do it. If you think about it, it’s like art. If you make a smudge, you can reconfigure it into something else and still have an amazing final painting. With entrepreneurship, you can shape and change your idea/ product/ service until it’s the right one. And there is no better time to do it then right now.
If someone else picks up on it and does it first, you will regret sitting on the sidelines. So once you are confident that you have the right idea, just do it.
Home Sweet College Home is officially open for business!
Packages will be lovingly packed and sent to your student’s college home 1–3 days after ordering.
For Iowa State orders: Use the coupon code HSCHLOVESISU for an exclusive ISU gift in their package if orders are made before September 12th!