Students start business selling JUUL accessories
Novack Cafe visitors might be surprised to see a new business selling its products in the café. DEEJ Co., a student-run business selling electronic cigarette accessories including adhesive carrying cases and easy-to-use chargers, will now have a weekly presence in the popular study space.
Created by Dhungjoo Kim ’19 in March 2018, DEEJ Co. is one of the College’s most recent student entrepreneurial efforts. Kim said he came up with the idea to sell accessories for JUULs, popular e-cigarettes, after talking to some of his friends who used the product. He said observed two problems for JUUL users. First, the e-cigarettes were often lost.
“I had friends who were buying a new one every other week, which is like $40,” he said.
Second, Kim saw that the JUUL chargers, which are portable and resemble USBs, are also often lost.
To provide a niche product, Kim decided to create a way for JUUL users to better keep track of their e-cigarettes.
“I just sort of realized that there was a gap in the market in terms of a solution to that problem,” he said.
After conducting market research to gauge interest in JUULs and accessories, Kim began working on a prototype of his first design. He took inspiration from adhesive phone wallets, low-cost holders that secure credit cards and cash to the back of a person’s smartphone.
“My thinking was, ‘Why not adapt something like that for the JUUL?’” he said.
Kim’s product does just that. After creating a satisfactory model of his design, he sent the plans to manufacturers in China. Kim then tested several further prototypes before settling on his finished product.
After creating his first product, Kim incorporated a company name based on his college nickname, “DJ.”
“It’s funny because I come from Philadelphia and everyone there calls me by my full name,” he said. “I chose to have this nickname when I came [to Dartmouth].”
Kim started selling his JUUL holders on Amazon, eventually expanding his product line to include JUUL chargers that can be plugged in much like phone chargers. He came up against his first business hurdle when the chargers were banned from Amazon due to the website’s policy prohibiting e-cigarettes and related products. Kim adapted by moving to Etsy and opening an online website for the business.
Kim recently began recruiting other students to serve as “campus ambassadors” for the company. He started selling his products in Novack with the help of these business partners.
Robert Hobart III ’21, one of these ambassadors, serves as the self-titled “VP of Compliance” and is in charge of the liaison between DEEJ Co. and Safety and Security.
“A lot of us saw it as an opportunity to be involved with some entrepreneurship on campus,” Hobart said.
According to Kim, almost all of DEEJ Co. products are sold online but the business is also very popular on campus.
DEEJ Co. customer Kyle Civale ’20 said he appreciates supporting a student-run business.
“I want to encourage more of that,” Civale said.
Kim said he plans to expand DEEJ Co. to Mexico and sell his JUUL holders in a retail setting. He will also start selling in Novack on a weekly basis.
Although Kim enjoys running his own company, he said he has no plans to become a full-time entrepreneur but instead wants to pursue the business as a hobby.
“It’s something I love doing,” he said. “It kind of fills my boredom.”