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May 2016

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University Customs

by Cara Hayes (edited by Becca Longhenry)

University Customs - Lucas Ferrago and Ted GilmanTed Gilman (Political Science) and Luke Farrago (Management, ’16) were sitting in their apartment one day trying to cover up some holes in their wall; posters were constantly ripping but the state flags that they had brought to college were still in good condition. That’s when the idea came to them: a business that customizes individual flags at affordable prices. They found a Chinese manufacturer online and founded University Customs.

Luke described their business, saying; “We design and manufacturer custom flags for both indoor and outdoor use. Through our use of our overseas manufacturer in China and our local fulfillment center, we are able to focus our efforts strictly on online marketing and sales through our website. We officially were incorporated in 2015. Both [Ted and I] worked full time on University Customs over the summer and sales exploded, [generating] close to $50,000 in revenue just during summer. [We] would love to further sustain and grow our working model, until we are able to work full time again, and see if this could be our future employment after college.”

Ted had previous experience as an entrepreneur working for a start-up animation company, but that was the only entrepreneurial experience either of the students had when they formed University Customs. They worked together to figure out the logistics of their business, such as shipping and having no minimum order quantity or color restrictions. A key part of their process was to set goals for themselves and then achieve those goals.

At first, Ted and Luke marketed their products through word of mouth. They knew these flags would be popular at music festivals, so they also began to market online through networks like Facebook and Reddit. There, they targeted specific groups by joining and posting within those groups. They believe this has been the most successful form of marketing for them, especially for reaching people who attend large music festivals.

New ideas are on the horizon for these two students; after college, both Ted and Luke are interested in starting other businesses. Their plan is to continue to make these businesses bigger and better. They believe [MadInc] has helped connect them with like-minded individuals and experienced entrepreneurs, while providing them with a workplace free of distractions. We look forward to seeing what Ted and Luke accomplish in the future!


Ted, Luke, and teammate James Baumgardner (Accounting) won 3rd place at the Startup Pitch competition for the spring 2016 class of MGT 472: New Venture Creation, held on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

  • Lucas Farrago (Management, '16; left)
  • Ted Gilman (Political Science; right)