They say the friends you make at Penn State will be your friends for years to come, but what about business partners?
Alumni Jake Sieber and Haroon Choudery didn’t know they’d end up founding a company together down the line when they moved two doors down from each other in East Halls their freshman year. By the time Sieber was through the first semester of his senior year, he was busy working on the business he started with three friends from his hometown Pittsburgh.
“As a college student working on a startup, I lost most of the social life I had in my earlier years,” he said. “Any downtime I had was dedicated to my business and focusing on ways to grow it.”
His first company, GLD, made its name by designing and selling collections of gold jewelry online and through social media. In May 2016, just a year after Sieber graduated from his Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, GLD accepted an investment offer and relocated to New York City.
Sieber hadn’t seen Choudery since their freshman year at Penn State, but once he learned Choudery was contracted to work for Facebook, he realized he could help out with GLD’s marketing and advertising campaigns. Just after its first relocation, however, the company wanted to make another move to Miami. This time, Sieber decided to stay behind.
“I made en extremely tough decision to stay in New York City, sell my shares, and create something new — something where I could use what I’ve learned and do some good in the world,” he said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to give back to those in the world much less fortunate than I’ve been.”
After GLD’s move, Sieber needed a new roommate. Luckily, in came John Higgins, another Penn State alumnus. The two met in school through a mutual friend and decided to live together in Sieber’s apartment, where Higgins helped him expand on any new ideas.
“John was extremely supportive, offering any advice and opinion that he could,” Sieber said. “He’s a Penn State grad, so I knew that he had a great sense of work ethic and determination to involve himself in a startup.”
Sieber spent weeks sitting in the Manhattan apartment deciding on his next venture. After hours on the phone with Choudery, Sieber thought of a new concept — to combine his childhood love of technology with his success in jewelry and apparel. Together, they began work on their new company, REVIVE Project.
Sieber spent the next seven months conceptualizing ideas for a “wearable charging cable bracelet,” working with 3D product designers to build prototypes and samples. Higgins contributed ideas on product design and marketing strategy before officially coming onboard.
“Once I began showing friends and family the finished product, it became realistic that the demand for this product was large enough to create a new market for uniquely fashionable and functional charging accessories,” Sieber said.
The company officially launched in July 2017 as an online retailer, but in a few months time, their charging bracelets for iPhones and Androids were in stores in New York City, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
REVIVE Project was off and running, but Sieber, Choudery, and Higgins didn’t forget about the mission at the company’s core: to donate resources and time to a global issue and give back to the global community. The partners knew they wanted to work with a charity whose mission resonated well with Choudery, who grew up in a low-income village in Pakistan. He later moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with his family and earned a full scholarship to Penn State.
“His experiences of having nothing to creating a life full of endless potential in the U.S. inspired us to give back in our fragile world,” Sieber said.
The company chose to partner with the Little Sun Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides solar-powered resources to communities around the world. REVIVE Project donates 10 percent of all its net profits to the organization and its cause.
For Sieber, the partnership with the Little Sun Foundation has expanded his vision for the company. He wants to share his designs and love for technology with people worldwide.
“There are so many different people that can benefit from owning a REVIVE Project bracelet and it turned out that it was the perfect product for a student,” he said. “I constantly envision myself at Penn State again, sitting in Forum, using my bracelet as a charging accessory.”
It seems like other students and grads can envision themselves using his bracelets, too. When Sieber posted a mock-up of a Penn State-edition REVIVE Project bracelet on his Instagram, he received responses from other Penn Staters asking where they could purchase one.
“I really do think about Penn State students wearing these, specifically as a sense of unity and school pride…I want everyone to wear these, maintain that Penn State mentality, think outside the box, and know that the world outside of college is filled with endless opportunities,” he said. “Also, who doesn’t want a piece of jewelry that doubles as a phone charger?”