In the common room of their freshman dorm, first year Vanderbilt University students Nikhil Polepalli and Peter Lee spent their Friday night doing what they love most: brainstorming business ideas. After deliberation of many ideas, one stuck — Anchor’d Clothing.
Anchor’d is a Vanderbilt inspired streetwear clothing company created to provide diverse, affordable and modern spirit wear to Vanderbilt students, alumni, and the Nashville community. This student initiative gained attention at last month’s C4E February Firestarters, as the judges recognized the potential of the idea and the ambition of the founders.
Nikhil and Peter were both drawn to Vanderbilt University for their respective majors — Economics & Computer Science and Human and Organizational Development with a Business Minor, as well as the student life and the collaborative approach to learn. The pair met by living a floor apart in the Memorial House dorm building and quickly realized their shared passion for business development and entrepreneurship.
During the February FireStarters the undergraduates stood their ground, as they competed against three other teams composed entirely of Owen Graduate School of Management MBA students. “As soon as we saw it was all graduate students, that’s when the nerve set in”, Nikhil admits. However, the duo remained excited to pitch their concept for the very first time and were very pleased with the outcome. “What I took away from it was just a great learning experience. The MBA’s were all so supportive and offered really good feedback. We really appreciate that,” says Peter.
Nikhil attributes his interest in building the brand from a summer camp he attended in high school, the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs. “I learned a lot about starting a business and how to come up with a business idea. From that point on I started to develop an interest in entrepreneurship.” Peter is excited to apply his future coursework to scale the company and has always had an excitement toward building. “I’ve always loved creating and finding solutions to problems”. In the future, Peter intends to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur through Anchor’d as well as a non-profit he is developing. Although Nikhil is excited about the opportunities ahead with Anchor’d, his long-term goal is to use his pre-law track to become an Intellectual Property Lawyer.
Regardless, they both share, “We’re so passionate about the idea. We really believe in it. If we just take this idea as a learning experience – of trying out new things regarding business, meeting new types of people. If that’s what we take away from it and we don’t end up with Anchor’d how we dream and envision it, we’re still really content with that. We just take it all as a learning experience.”