Stephen Soward, left, Riley Soward, center, and Ameet Kallarackal of Campus Insights
courtesy Campus Insights
By Sarina Finkelstein
March 17, 2016

You might know the dorm room origins of some of the tech boom startups—Napster, Facebook, or even the more recent Handy.com and Insomnia Cookies. But have you heard about the college student who has a wait list for the “Sweet Nantucket Bay Scallops with Beet and Coriander” he serves in his dorm room restaurant? Or the one who went out and built his own mobile dorm room so he wouldn’t have to pay for housing? What about the two brothers who get paid for telling international companies what they don’t like about their services? Meet the founders of eight innovative college startups launched in the past several years.

With sticker prices at public universities averaging $9,410 a year (for in-state students), private colleges topping $32,400, and the average student’s debt at graduation now upwards of $35,000, the red-letter news of college acceptance can also mean being in the red for life.

These entrepreneurial students took the lemons of daunting college costs and turned them into lemonade via creative startups. Some are actually managing to cover their college costs with the hope of graduating debt-free, while others are just making extra spending money. They’re doing it out of dorm rooms, between classes, and while pulling all-nighters. But all are seizing the opportunity—while still in school—to make their dreams a reality and learn the challenges of launching and running a small business.

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