Nick Chmura has a huge problem with gifts. He's not only a terrible gift giver, but he never seems to get gifts that he likes.
"I got nutcrakers every year for like 15 years from my family—no idea why. I definitely don't like nutcrackers," he adds.
Even when the Ohio-natiive entered the University of Tampa in 2009 as a marine biology major ("I think that major was just an excuse to get to Florida," he quips), Chmura couldn't stop this nagging feeling that he should be solving this problem.
And in October 2010, he got his chance. As a member of UT's entrepreneur club, Chmura entered a small pitch competition in Chicago. There he revealed the rough idea for BetterBoo, a web-based application that uses Facebook and Amazon to help users find and buy gifts.
Though he didn't win the competition, he placed in the top 12, and went back to Tampa energized. "I was excited about the idea and I kept refining it. I posted a video pitch on a few of my school's platforms," he says.
Then, Chmura got lucky. Over the holiday break that year, just two months after his Chicago pitch, he got an e-mail from an interested investor.
"I got this email and I was just so shocked," he says. He met with the investor, who was a UT alum, and they got down to business. "We went through balance sheets, term sheets, just all that stuff. I didn't even have a product yet, just a plan and my enthusiasm."
That enthusiasm landed the now 21-year-old $40,000 in seed funding.
BetterBoo officially launched in August 2011, and Chmura hosted a launch party in his hometown of Oberline, Ohio. "It was probably the only launch party in the history of Ohio," he adds.
Today, BetterBoo boasts around 1,200 users, and has made around $3,000 in sales. Currently, the site makes money as an affiliate of Amazon, taking a percentage of referral sales.
Though the finance major still has a year left of school, he's continuing to plot a path for growth.
"Right now I'm looking at other partnerships that will help the site grow and also looking for other ways to make money," he says.
And after school? No suit for Chmura. "I could never do a 9 to 5," he says. "I want to own something for sure. And I will continue to work on BetterBoo once I graduate."
*Video courtesy of the University of Tampa
Making Gift-Giving a Cinch: BetterBoo
University of Tampa senior Nick Chmura is turning his personal quest to be a better gift-giver into a profitable business.