What began as simply making gifts for family and friends evolved into a start-up company called LazerEdge. Will Pfitzner, a senior studying biomedical engineering, is the founder and CEO of the company. David Tillack, a sophomore studying engineering, joined Pfitzner after a few months and also became co-founder. The two students are Albright Scholars and met through the EI Garage.
The process of making LazerEdge products is fairly labor-intensive, according to Tillack. “We start with raw wooden oak sheets and cut them into smaller pieces that will fit into the machine,” he said. “We then design and cut a customer-specified design, sand, stain and finish each order.” After that, the product is packaged for shipping.
The Albright Entrepreneurs Village aided in kickstarting LazerEdge. According to Pfitzner, the Village provided them with the physical tools to laser cut wood as well as the mentorship and support to make it happen.
“We could not have started this business without the resources of the Albright Entrepreneurship Village—which has provided us resources such as connections, guidance and equipment like the laser cutter,” Tillack said.
In addition to the Village, the founders’ families, friends and community have provided support and inspiration throughout the developmental stages of the company.
“My family has been my inspiration for the development of new products, especially when the holidays come around,” Pfitzner said. “I wanted to be able to give them something that was not only aesthetically appealing, but also has a genuine, intrinsic value.” Pfitzner said LazerEdge allows him to create meaningful gifts and products for each special family member.
The next phase of the company will be to work on advertising and promotions. As of right now, the products sell themselves because of their high quality and customizable features, according to Tillack.
“Currently we have no budget for marketing and therefore no acquisition cost,” Tillack said. “We currently sell from our website.”
LazerEdge is a unique company because the workers understand and mark social responsibility as a top priority. The co-founders care about the quality of their products. “We are proud of every piece that we create and are proud to say that we believe in 100 percent customer satisfaction,” Pfitzner said.
The two entrepreneurs are interested in helping their community and using their company to do so. Tillack touched on the idea of a social entrepreneurship model where they “plan on donating as well as actively participating/serving the community.”
Ten percent of all profits from all flag products supports the Wounded Warrior Project. The additional $1.99 proceeds of adding a heart symbol to any product go to the customer’s choice of LazerEdge’s supported causes: Wounded Warrior Project, Oak City Outreach Center and Wake County Urban Ministries.
The best part of the whole experience for Pfitzner is seeing customers’ reactions when he makes their ideas come to life. “LazerEdge has the ability to, virtually, create anything,” he said.
Examples of products from LazerEdge include monograms, outlines of the state of North Carolina and Tuffy’s head that will be available soon.
In five years, the company plans to be a hot commodity for college students who want a unique piece for their residence halls, as well as anyone who wants to give someone a custom gift they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
As far as individual plans, Pfitzner is interested in consulting as well as entrepreneurship. “Whatever I pursue, I hope to make an indelible difference in the lives of others,” he said.
Tillack hopes to stay involved with the entrepreneurial atmosphere of NC State and Raleigh as well. “If I don’t create my own company down the road, my plans are to be a crucial part of other companies in the start-up phase,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is where my passion lies.”
To learn more about the Albright Entrepreneur’s Village, visit https://housing.dasa.ncsu.edu/entrepreneurs-village.