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Pop-up store on Newbury Street created by six Harvard Business School students

Posted by Your Town  April 24, 2012 09:48 AM

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(Photo by By Chelsea Sheasley)

(Josh Plavner and Stefanie Botelho, two of the six POPstart co-founders at the store on Sunday.

Not every entrepreneur can make it onto Newbury Street, but for two days this past weekend the path was made a little easier by POPstart, a pop-up store created by six Harvard Business school students.

On Saturday and Sunday April 21 and 22 POPstart opened its doors at 328 Newbury Street, an empty storefront converted into a retail business for the weekend to showcase products from local startup businesses.

“Everyone wants to be on Newbury Street, but no one can do it alone,” said Josh Plavnor, one of the six Harvard MBA students behind the idea.

Fourteen local businesses were featured at POPstart, ranging from companies a few years old to some in their first months of operation.

Businesses included Cocomama Foods, a Boston-based company that sells gluten-free instant Quinoa cereal and 9tailors, a custom tailor business. TAV Cashmere sold Mongolian cashmere products, and Perfect Fuel Chocolate marketed their organic snack.

Two of the more exotic products featured were Quidditch apparel and sea shell-based acoustic iPod speakers.

Quiyk, a business started by students at Emerson College, displayed their custom Quidditch gear. Launched in November 2011, Quiyk is now the official athletic apparel provider for the International Quidditch Association, the governing body that organizes the fast-growing sport.

With over 650 teams in 20 countries and thousands of players, the founders say business is off to a good start. Their snitch shorts, which pioneered a new way for players to pretend to be the golden snitch made famous in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, are required for all IQA-sponsored competitions.

“The fans are unbelievable,” according to new business director and college junior Nadav Swarttz. “They buy a ton.”


Vinod Goswami talks about his acoustic iPod speakers at POPstart on Sunday.

Vinod Goswami, a grandfather turned entrepreneur showcased his handcrafted iPod speakers. Made with Kashmiri paper mache and natural seashells, the speakers use shells for natural amplification without any power source. “I try to make them as beautiful as possible,” Goswami said.

Plavnor estimated that all the companies except one had sales on Saturday. “The feedback from our vendors was that they had high quality interactions,” he said.

The idea for POPstart grew out of Harvard Business School’s experiment with a new MBA curriculum. First year students are now required to start their own micro-businesses.

For their business, Plavnor and his co-founders wanted to address the marketing challenge many entrepreneurs can face.

“A lot of students set up websites, but find it hard to drive traffic,” Plavnor said.

With POPstart, the founders wanted to provide a space where entrepreneurs would get a storefront on Boston’s prime shopping street, and shoppers would get to interact with local entrepreneurs.

“This event is very, very positive,” said Goswami.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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