From being a co-organizer of the Student Business Incubator to taking entrepreneurship classes offered by the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship faculty and staff, Brendan Rice (BBA, 2014) was very involved in the startup community during his time in Madison. He also received the Paul J. and Marnie A. Stoiber Scholarship Fund award that allowed him to work at Ronin Studios & Consulting as a Marketing and Business Development intern. Working on this six person was an invaluable experience in teaching him about the real world of startups. The experience cemented a passion for entrepreneurship in Brendan and taught him many lessons that he was able to use during the creation of his own company.
Upon graduation from the Wisconsin School of Business, Brendan began a fellowship with Venture for America that took him to Detroit as a Startup Analyst for Bizdom, a Dan Gilbert backed startup accelerator. Venture for America is a 2-year program based loosely on Teach for America that allows fellows to “build companies and revitalize cities through entrepreneurship.” Brendan was able to work with quite a few early stage startup companies and garner a unique vantage point from the investor side of things. It was also there that he met his eventual partner, Russell Suskin.
Brendan has taken what he learned at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and through the Venture for America program to build his e-commerce startup, Doze, from the ground up. Fed up with mattress stores and noticing many inefficiencies in the outdated mattress market, the co-founders set out to start a company that would sell high quality memory foam mattresses directly to consumers and skip the massive costs associated with traditional marketing and brick and mortar locations. These cost savings are passed directly on to the consumer and mattresses that would traditionally be priced at $1,500 or more are available starting at $400.
One key piece of advice that Brendan offers is “don’t try to label your passion until you’ve tried a lot of different things.” He cautions that many individuals label passion as a specific industry but, instead, they should be attempting to find a position that they are excited about, no matter the industry. Brendan would have never thought he would be passionate about selling mattresses and it wasn’t until he started Doze that he realized that he is passionate about building a company and selling a product that has a meaningful impact on peoples lives.