In the fall, Neha Raman will head back to Temple University in Philadelphia as a junior — but perhaps with a new purpose for her management and finance classes.
Raman and a partner won $30,000 on TLC’s “Girl Starter” for a business plan they developed for cookies with a question baked inside. The 20-year-old Philadelphia-area resident also has her own business, Rungh cosmetics, so she took a year off school to develop it and accommodate the reality show’s schedule.
“It’s going to be weird going back to being a student,” Raman, a finance major, said recently. “If this explodes to a level where I can’t do school anymore, this is first.”
Since marketing began in late November 2015, Rungh has sold 400 kits to make your own nail polish. But Raman is expecting some significant bounce from her national exposure on “Girl Starter.”
The show’s six episodes followed four teams of contestants, each of whom had six weeks to come up with an idea for a new business and get it started. Raman was partnered with a young woman from Ohio, also was a budding entrepreneur, for the cookie plan and won second place.
Since the end of taping in late March, Raman said, she has been “making sure Rungh was lined up if we got a crazy amount of traffic.”
Overall, sales for the fledgling company — started with a $40,000 infusion from her parents and a family friend, with the kits made in China — have been “decent,” she said, acknowledging that she had been “anticipating more.”
Having an idea is one thing. Selling it is another. How difficult building sales can be is among the entrepreneurial lessons she has learned, Raman said: “That was one of the biggest lessons I learned: You really have to advertise like crazy.”
In this social media-obsessed world, that includes getting exposure from YouTube influencers. Raman managed to land a big one with beauty guru Chelsea Crockett, who demonstrated how to use the kit in a February 2016 video. During the first half of that year, Raman won $15,000 in two Philadelphia pitch competitions, College Pitch Philly and Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
It’s all practical experience to add to her studies as she goes back to school.