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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA graduate listed as top-25 entrepreneur in Business Week

    Eric Wu
    Eric Wu

    A recent UA business alumnus may join the ranks of those like Michael Dell, who started Dell Computers out of his dorm room his freshman year of college, Jean Paul Getty, who made his first million by the age of 22 through oil production, and Debbi Fields, who started Mrs. Fields cookies at the age of 20.

    Eric Wu was selected as one of Business Week’s top 25 entrepreneurs under the age of 25 in August.

    The article, which featured 25 of the brightest entrepreneurs under the age of 25, profiled Wu, a 24-year-old UA graduate.

    Wu, who graduated with degrees in economics and international business in 2005, said a friend asked him during his sophomore year to help create, a job-searching Web site.

    “”It wasn’t very successful,”” said Wu. “”We sold the company for $75,000, but it was a learning experience.””

    The failure of did not stop Wu from continuing with his entrepreneurial goals.

    During his time at the UA, Wu said he bought 10 houses near campus and leased them out.

    “”We would lease them to college kids and use the profit to purchase more homes,”” Wu said.

    Being a homeowner is what led Wu to the idea that landed him the spot in Business Week’s entrepreneurial edition.

    His idea was to create a Web site that would be user-friendly for college students looking for homes and apartments to rent.

    The Web site,, lists properties near popular college campuses. Wu also lists how close to campus the properties are and the amenities that surround the property.

    “”We noticed that properties near campus had a high turnover rate, and we saw a need for advertising towards this market,”” he said. “”We also knew through experience that college students don’t have a lot of experience with renting, so we wanted to put together a platform to help students search for housing.””

    Wu and his business partner Jon Lange, also a UA graduate, interviewed hundreds of students to figure out what students liked and disliked about the apartment complexes surrounding Arizona State University.

    “”The biggest obstacle was meeting our timeline, but overall it was a pretty smooth process,”” Wu said.

    Wu’s Web site only operates at ASU, but Wu hopes to have opened up at Northern Arizona University by December and at the UA by early 2007.

    “”We tried it at the UA my junior year, but it was a lot more work than we thought it would be,”” Wu said. “”I decided to put the project on hold after graduating and got more experience in business working in the Scottsdale area. After a while, we decided to start it up again, and ASU just had the perfect demographics.””

    ASU is the second-largest university in the nation in terms of enrollment, so buying property near campus is expensive, Wu said. As a result, students need to rent, and 85 percent of the student body lives off campus. All these factors made ASU a good school to start at, he said.

    By 2007, the site will offer seven more locations in the U.S. – Colorado University at Boulder, Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech, New Mexico University, New Mexico State University and Utah State University.

    The Web site is on track to pull in $50,000 in gross revenue this year and $350,000 in 2007, he said.

    Wu, who was among 300 applicants for the title, said he is not sure how Business Week nominated him. But someone called and interviewed him one afternoon, which led to the profile, Wu said.

    Wu said his most inspirational teacher at the UA, Caroline Patrick, the director for international initiatives at the Eller College of Management, not only gave him tools to succeed in school, but also provided guidance for his career.

    “”What makes Eric so special is his honesty and humility,”” Patrick said. “”He is a global thinker that wants to make a difference in the world, and he knows the incremental steps necessary to take his dreams to reality.””

    As for advice to other young entrepreneurs, Wu quoted Guy Kawasaki, who said, “”Make meaning.””

    “”If you make meaning you eventually make money,”” Wu said. “”Do something that has meaning to you. The money will come later.””

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