The stretch of the Tobacco Road separating UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University is only 11 miles.
Even so, the students on the two campuses typically live worlds apart. The lack of cross-university classes and programs—coupled with that small rivalry you might have heard about—limit the opportunities for the students at the two universities to meet and collaborate.
The prestigious Robertson Scholars Leadership Program—established by a $24 million donation from Julian Robertson in 2000—works to bridge this gap. The scholarship provides opportunities for Carolina and Duke students to enroll in classes at both universities, live on each campus and collaborate with other students while living and working together.
The scholarship was inspired by Mr. Robertson’s personal experience—one of his sons attended UNC-Chapel Hill and the other attended Duke. After they graduated, he realized that combining an education from both universities would foster more collaboration between the students of the two universities and better equip them for post-graduation life.
Carpe Lotion—an antiperspirant hand lotion and startup by the same name developed by a pair of Robertson scholars—is likely the type of collaboration Mr. Robertson envisioned when he developed the scholarship program.
Bootstrap’s investment also serves as a vote of confidence. In addition, Bootstrap can help run the everyday operations as Spratte and Kubica work to grow the business.
The men believe they are well equipped to manage the stress and workload that running a company and being full-time students bring. Both were already well-versed in balancing multiple responsibilities before they began their undergraduate careers—and increased their workload and extracurricular activities once they began undergrad with research assistantships and roles in organizations like the student government.
They’ve already displayed their ability to pivot too. The company’s name was originally “Clutch.” Spratte says the word became more than just the name of their company, but part of their everyday vocabulary and identity. But it shared a name with a particular cologne at Abercrombie and Fitch. After months of trying to retain the name and failing, they decided to rebrand, switching to “Carpe,” homage to the phrase, “Carpe Diem”. The change was hardest on Spratte, who admits to locking himself in a bathroom to listen to “Let it Go” on repeat until he did, in fact, let it go.
But they made the change, and are now poised to grow Carpe into the future. And both are pretty confident they’ve got a friendship and business partnership that will last that long as well.