“The work never stops, but with startups, that’s part of the fun and part of the challenge.” Entrepreneur and new Honours Arts & Business (Speech Communication) grad Caleb Polley convocated in June and dove head first into his most recent venture, Boogaloo Bunks.
“Boogaloo Bunks was inspired by my travels across Europe,” says Caleb. “During my trip, I stayed in several rowdy hostels where getting a good night’s sleep was next to impossible.”
Working with Boogaloo co-founder Brendan Coady, Caleb set out to solve the problem, but soon realized that sleep time challenges of privacy, security, and sleep quality extend far beyond hostels. “From homeless shelters, where a bad night’s sleep might mean missing a critical job interview to student dorms, where sleep disturbances can harm your academic success, we came to realize that sleep and privacy are incredibly important,” he says.
Boogaloo Bunks transform traditional beds into personal private pods (as seen in their promotional video). Companies can install Boogaloos on their existing beds and, in the case of hostels, can rent them out to travellers for a few dollars per night. The product includes a privacy canopy, secure safe, charging outlets, reading lights, and a non-disruptive alarm that simulates a sunrise without waking your roommate(s).
“I could not have chosen a better school in which to learn and experience entrepreneurialism. UW has provided countless resources, mentors, funding, and in our specific case, market validation in the university residences.” Caleb started Boogaloo Bunks out of the Conrad Centre’s Enterprise Co-op Program where he won several pitch competitions, which brought in considerable startup capital.
Boogaloo Bunks is now a part of Velocity Foundry, UWaterloo’s hardware incubator for startup companies. “In Velocity, a space typically filled with technical engineers, an arts degree is a bit of a rarity, but I see this as a competitive advantage. The skills I learned in my Arts classes have been incredibly valuable during my sales meetings, funding pitches, customer surveys, and early marketing campaigns,” explains Caleb. “My arts degree gives me a unique perspective from more traditional technical founders and I am confident that this perspective will become one of my greatest assets.”
The future looks exciting for the team at Boogaloo Bunks with an anticipated fall launch in several universities across Ontario and a working partnership with House of Friendship Homeless/Community Centre. But for Caleb the social entrepreneurship angle is important too. “I’m most excited about making an impact in markets that reach people in need, such as homeless shelters and disaster relief. Improving people’s lives is what keeps me motivated each day.”
SPECIAL NOTE: If you’re interested in learning more about the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Boogaloo Bunks is giving away a free, 15-page KW student guide to everyone who signs up for their mailing list. The guide was developed by a UWaterloo Arts alum and serves as a great way to learn about this student-friendly community.