This story is part of a series featuring each of the twelve startups in the CYstarters 2017 summer cohort. Each team had 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.
Get to Know: Andrew Pauley
Education: Iowa State University, senior studying Marketing
Most recently I…attended the Dallas Safari Trade Show earlier in January, showcasing U Conceal It. Unknowingly, I met and pitched to Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington as he strolled past our booth
Currently working on: U Conceal It
U Conceal It (www.uconcealit.com) helps gun owners conceal their firearms through a concealable wall safe to ensure safety, protection and ease of mind. Fashioned as a picture frame, U Conceal It sells lockable safes in all sizes to provide storage for valuables, ranging from firearms to cash and jewelry.
How it works?
U Conceal It wall safes open using either a magnetic key or a radio frequency identification card (RFID). Buyers have three options to customize their wall safe, available in standard sizes: slide-in ready for any 8×10 or 11×17 image; done-for-you custom printed wall safes, allowing users to upload their own image through the website and have it shipped to them with the printed image; or choosing a custom painted wildlife print on canvas, available in sizes 20×30, 24×48 or 24×60.
Origin? Pauley’s father is a professional wild life artist. With his father’s help during the fall of 2016, he was able to come up with an innovative solution to keep his firearms safe and secure while displaying his father’s artwork. The father-son duo proved their resourcefulness in creating the first prototypes and showed them to friends. What followed were multiple requests from friends and small gun-shop owners wanting to buy the custom wall safes. This jump-started Andrew’s journey into entrepreneurship and he officially launched U Conceal It in January 2018.
I caught up with Andrew Pauley to learn more about the business he’s created while attending Iowa State University.
Who is your typical buyer?
AP: Most of our buyers are families that have conceal carry permits. Typical buyers include families with young children who are looking for quick access to firearms when they need it. Our products make for great gifts and we see repeat purchases from our U Conceal It family. In 2018, we are working with gun shops and large wildlife conservation groups.
How is U Conceal It currently growing?
AP: Earlier in January, I attended the Dallas Safari Trade Show in Texas to focus on sales. After the second day of the four-day show, we sold-out of all our products! We continue to generate revenue from the multiple trade shows we’ve participated in, including the Iowa Deer Classic and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
What was a challenge you faced when developing this business?
AP: People don’t always take me seriously because of my age. I’m still in college and sometimes suppliers see me as too young to run a business. I’ve overcome this by using referrals from previous buyers to build credibility in my relationships with suppliers.
AP: The CYstarters summer accelerator, a program created by the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, has helped me meet new people and connect me to resources I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Joining a group of like-minded, high-energy, entrepreneurial-spirited individuals working on their own businesses provided me with a strong environment focused on business growth.
What are your favorite things about being an entrepreneur?
AP: To do what I want, when I want is most important for me. The challenge of solving a problem and fulfilling a need is what drives me to keep working hard — and entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, work, and more work, where there is risk in each step.
Where do you see U Conceal It headed in the next few years?
AP: Moving forward, I’m looking to grow the business after I graduate this May (2018). I will do this by establishing relationships with wildlife conservation groups, attending more trade shows, and holding shelf space at stores — all to grow business and increase sales.
Where can people find U Conceal It and how can they contact you?