UNC student Andrew Royce Bauer ’16, an African, African-American and diaspora studies major and entrepreneurship minor, has created a lot of buzz with his new GPS wallet. The product was recently featured in Glamour magazine. Twenty-year-old Bauer is also CEO of his family’s leather company, Royce. He talked to us about his inspiration for the Royce Freedom Wallet and how his professors at UNC have helped him along the way.
Q. Tell us about how the wallet works. How does it protect against electronic theft?
A. The Royce Freedom Wallet is a wallet stored with GPS technology from a high-tech mobile application available on the Apple App Store and Android Market to track the exact location of your wallet wherever you go. The wallet is crafted with state-of-the-art technology to stop thieves from fraudulently accessing your personal information. I designed the wallet with utility and elegance in mind —crafting it with full grain leather.
Q. How did you get the idea for a wallet with GPS?
A. The UNC Innovation Scholars Program, including professor Buck Goldstein and program director Lizzy Hazeltine in the entrepreneurship minor, have really encouraged me to create ideas that can have a widespread impact. The idea came to me during my freshman year in response to losing my wallet, and development took over a year until the release date on Nov. 29, 2013. It was a long process, but I wanted to make sure that when I finally released the product, it would serve its purpose in both protecting and pleasing [the customer]. The product has been purchased by people across the world, and I am gratified to have received such positive feedback.
Q. How has your experience at UNC contributed to your success generally and with this particular design? Were specific professors or classes helpful to you?
A. Professor Goldstein has changed my life. His mentorship has been decisive in the decisions I have made both inside and outside the classroom. The minor in entrepreneurship has accelerated my aspirations much faster than I ever anticipated. Never did I dream I would be a chief executive officer at the age of 20.
Q. What do you want to do after graduation?
A. After graduation, I intend on building my business until I have the financial capability to begin investing in social change through nonprofit work and public service.
Q. What advice would you give other students seeking to undertake entrepreneurial ventures or start a company while in school?
A. My advice would be to choose wisely. As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of different ideas. Some are innovative, some are valuable, some are viable, and some are destined for failure. If you are going to start a venture or run a company, make sure it has scalability, long-term value, and both a moral and financial incentive for you to sustain it for a long period of time.
[ Interview by Beth Lawrence ‘12 ]