When Jon Roberts and Stephanie Charles, the partners behind Charles Roberts LLC, won the 2016 business plan competition at Rutgers Business School, it provided a huge boost to the launch of their first product.
The partners spent some of the $20,000 prize money to improve their dri-sound premium headphone covers, which are specifically designed to protect pricey headphones from damage without diminishing the look or quality of the devices.
Roberts, an alumnus of the Rutgers Part-Time MBA program, and Charles spent the summer working with a manufacturer to carry out product testing to refine the silicone headphone covers. One of their goals was also to reduce the production costs. Now, they’re preparing for the headphone covers to hit the market in early winter.
Charles and Roberts were colleagues working in the financial industry when they first met and eventually they worked on a project in Hong Kong that required close client interaction and long days to accommodate global time zones. “We realized we both wanted to do things outside Corporate America,” Roberts said, recalling their initial conversations about the idea of creating a start-up.
After a year of discussions, they decided to partner up around the idea of the headphone covers. While continuing to work full-time jobs, they began their entrepreneurial venture, which included securing patents, creating prototypes, attending first-time inventor conferences and entering the annual Rutgers Business Plan competition.
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