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Shirtmob offers deals at businesses

April 18, 2012

A semesterlong class project became a business venture for local business startup Shirtmob when four students conducted surveys to find out where the company’s target clientele stood.

Shirtmob, a new business owned and operated by MSU alumnus Carl Winans, aims to sell T-shirts featuring the logos of local establishments, who theoretically will offer deals to those who wear the shirts to the business.

To make the Shirtmob idea a reality, Winans said he needed a student perspective.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to start here (in East Lansing), but we wanted to get some feedback from actual students, our target audience,” Winans said.

Four students from a telecommunications course elected to do just that with their class project for the semester, conducting surveys of students to see where their T-shirt wearing interests would lie and upping the business’ social media presence.

Kyle Parr, a media and communication technology senior and one of the students who worked on the project, said they saw positive feedback from the students surveyed.

“Students actually do check what the daily specials are and are looking for deals,” Parr said. “A lot of students said they’d be willing to wear a company’s T-shirt to get a discount or special.”

The survey also showed which businesses students might prefer getting discounts for by wearing apparel. Restaurants proved popular, Parr said, as well as local bar establishments.

Shirtmob is one of several clients in this semester’s Human Computer Interaction and Experience Design course, instructor and assistant professor Constantinos Coursaris said in an email.

Coursaris said allowing students to work with real-world businesses is beneficial to their learning and could help them land jobs in the future.

Parr said he enjoyed working with Shirtmob to find out what students wanted from the business and believed it gave him a better idea of what he wants to do when he graduates.

“Seeing the business side of things gave me a different perspective and gives me a little more sense of the direction I want to head,” he said.

As for Winans and his startup business, he said the data and effort put in by the students who worked with him will be integral as he moves forward with contacting potential businesses to work with Shirtmob.

“It was great to see the genuine interest from students,” Winans said. “We think that there’s a lot we could do for everybody.”

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