Northwestern Student Holdings sells custom school calendar

Meghan Morris

To add to its history of student entrepreneurship, Northwestern Student Holdings created a calendar to sell at local businesses this year.

Each Northwestern family receives a free calendar in the mail during the summer from the University, but NSH president Prateek Janardhan, a Weinberg senior, recognized an opportunity for a higher-quality, student-produced product last spring. The calendars cost $14.99 and are sold in Norris Bookstore, Beck’s Book Store and Campus Gear. It is an academic year calendar, running from August 2011 to July 2012, with each quarter week number noted at the start of the week and student-specific dates including football games and Dillo Day.

“We thought either the kids bring the calendar to school or the parents have it, so there’s one party without a calendar,” Janardhan said. “We made sure the design was very professional and not cluttered, so that’s how we ensured there was still a market for this product.”

Preparation started in the spring, when NSH met with a similar group from the University of Pennsylvania that sold, among other things, calendars. After brainstorming and market research, the organization decided to pitch a prototype to the bookstores.

“We told them that we already did the market research and it would appeal to Northwestern, and we’re confident it will sell,” Janardhan said.

Before producing the calendar, the NU Trademark Licensing Office needed to approve the use of the University’s name; once approved, NSH paid a royalty fee, Janardhan said. Finally, in early August, the calendar was sent to Quartet Copies and then delivered to stores.

McCormick senior Beau Garrett took the calendar’s front cover picture of Deering Library surrounded by vivid orange leaves. NSH asked for student photo submissions last year, and while Garrett said he did not take the photo with the intention of publishing it in this medium, it fits well.

“The shot captures a really well-known landmark on campus,” Garrett said. “It’s representative of the spirit and architecture of Northwestern.”

This spirit included a penchant for entrepreneurship, which NSH guides at Northwestern.

NSH is a not-for-profit student group, with revenue going back into its businesses. According to its website, its companies employ more than 50 NU students and made six-figure profits last year.

“By buying this calendar, you’re not only buying a great product for yourself; you’re also supporting entrepreneurship at NU,” Janardhan said.

The organization plans to introduce more products in the coming months and years for both students and academic departments.

“The Northwestern calendar was a test to see whether such an endeavor was feasible, and we plan on creating an NSH Products team with the sole purpose of developing and executing on new ideas,” Janardhan said.

Weinberg junior Neal Monga, the cofounder of the calendar business, said that the goal of the calendar is not simply profit.

“It wasn’t really about the money for us,” Monga said. “It was the challenge.”

Students can still purchase the calendars at local bookstores while supplies last.

[email protected]