Story and photo by Luke Nankivell
Starting a business can be difficult, especially when the owner is a full-time college student.
Matt Hattendorf, a P2, started making computer sleeves after he stepped on his backpack and broke his computer inside.
“I bought a couple $50 cases (for my new computer) that looked like they would be substantial,” he said. “And then I got them in the mail, and they weren’t at all what I was looking for.”
Hattendorf is used to woodworking, having grown up around the trade. His father was a carpenter, and taught Hattendorf how to make bowls and salt and pepper shakers as gifts.
It wasn’t until January 2013 that Hattendorf, along with senior marketing major Zach Lukasiewicz, started building a company around the sleeves. They decided to name it “Ingrained Sleeves.”
The two met their first year at Drake when they joined Sigma Phi Epsilon. From there, the two became good friends, and set out goals for their new company.
“We don’t need a bunch of publicity,” Lukasiewicz said. “We do value our product, and know it’s something that people need.”
Right now, the pair is trying to advertise through word of mouth.
“We’re talking to the Quad-City Times to give them four or five (sleeves) for a tablet giveaway they have,” Hattendorf said. “With their radio and newspaper ads for that, it will help us get our
Along with the giveaway with the Quad-City Times, Ingrained Sleeves is working with several publications in the Des
The pair will sell the sleeves at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market five times this year. The goal for Hattendorf is to sell about 50 sleeves each day at the market.
“A lot of this rides on how well we do in the farmers’ market,” Hattendorf said. “If I sell 50 a time, that’s a substantial amount of money I can throw at ads and work on my operations a bit.”
To keep up with new advertising styles, Ingrained Sleeves has started using a Facebook page. Although the page has less than 200 likes, Lukasiewicz said their goal is to have 10,000 likes by the end of the summer.
With many of their sales being face-to-face, Ingrained Sleeves hopes social media will generate a wider span of customers.
The ultimate goal for Hattendorf and Lukasiewicz is to sell the company one day. Hattendorf said being able to grow a company to the point where someone wants to buy it from you would give him the best feeling.
In 24 months, Lukasiewicz hopes the company can be self-sustaining, having a woodworking company making the cases
“We have pretty big goals,” Lukasiewicz said. “But we’re not the kind of people who do things half-way. We’re very goal-oriented.”
With the pair being in Des Moines for at least the next two years, Ingrained Sleeves will be a part of the Des Moines area and Drake community for years to come.
“It’s something that I really like to do,” Hattendorf said. “I can definitely see myself doing this for a while.”
“It’s organic, it’s young,” Lukasiewicz said. “It’s hard not to love it.”