Farmer grad shines shoes, dives into startup scene

June 2016

Alex Brzozowski is a busy guy. Between graduating this past spring with a degree in supply chain management, getting a job at a startup accelerator in Erie, Pennsylvania, and starting his own shoe shine business, he’s got a full plate.

That’s right. Alex is a creator of the startup company Shoe Shine 2 Go, a venture born of his time with the High Street Startups student group here at Farmer. This congregation of like-minded entrepreneurs seeks to solve problems by finding and implementing creative ideas. Alex’s interests have always been in taking something antiquated and finding ways to update it. Shoe shine was the perfect project.What is it? It’s an all-in-one shoe shine system that includes brushes and two different colors of shoe shine, all wrapped up in a conveniently portable case.

Shoe Shine 2 Go was the result of a lot of hard work and long hours, but it’s grown into a project that Alex can stand behind. The response has been astounding, as well. The Kickstarter for Shoe Shine 2 Go, as of June 14, 2016, with eight days to go in the campaign, had 176 backers for a total of nearly $8,000. “The hardest part is knowing where to start, but once you’re able to cross some items off your checklist and get some wind in your sails, if you figure out the first steps, it becomes so much easier,” Alex said.

As a supply chain management major, Alex was able to interact with a range of faculty that, he said, were incredibly involved in his project from the beginning. “My professors were always willing to listen,” he said. “You can always knock on their doors. Whenever I wanted some kind of advice for the Shoe Shine 2 Go product, I could go to them and know that they were invested in what I was saying, and they would email later with ideas, so you know they had been thinking about it. I’m not sure I would have gotten that at any other school.”

Alex’s experience with the Farmer School faculty is far from unique - other graduates, other entrepreneurs, have interacted in similar ways with these genuinely invested folks. In addition, he was able to attend multiple presentations in the FSB’s Speaker Series that opened his eyes to possibilities he wouldn’t have stumbled on by himself. “All of the speakers are at the pinnacle of the business world,” he said. “They bring in all these speakers and they always have something valuable to say.”

The Kickstarter, from Alex’s perspective, has so far been a stunning success. It was never actually about the money in the first place. Really the campaign’s purpose was to check the pulse of the community and see if there was viable demand for a product like Shoe Shine 2 Go. The verdict? The demand is there! Next steps include setting up more meetings with the eventual goal of getting the product into brick and mortar stores, airports and convenience shops.

For Alex, his new job as a business developer for the Erie, Pennsylvania based startup accelerator Tech Tank means that he won’t be far from the startup scene. In his new role, he wears many hats, bringing in startup companies and helping them gain better footing in the fast paced world of innovative designs.

Alex Brzozowski