A UC Davis student’s ambition to better the world has driven him to the world of entrepreneurship.
What started as a New Year’s resolution is quickly turning into reality in the form of The Runaway Robot, a clothing company “focused on trying to make the world a better place” one shirt at a time.
Alexander Ogloza, a third-year communication major, along with 11 or so interns, has created the company to help charity missions around the United States. The artist responsible for the company’s inception and the art on the clothing is Tomio Hayase-Izu, a third-year environmental policy major.
“The Runaway Robot is a good example of students taking the initiative by using these resources, creating something greater and hopefully in doing so, giving back to the community,” Hayase-Izu said. “We had a vision, and are doing our best to follow it.”
As young as The Runaway Robot is, the company has already been awarded the UC Davis Entrepreneurial Fund Grant. The fund awards “sound business ideas that are motivated not just by profit, but also by a desire to have a positive impact on the Davis community or society at large,” according to the description in their website.
Aside from the monetary aid of the grant, the E-fund invited the company for weekly meetings to talk about the development and growth of The Runaway Robot as well.
Hayase-Izu is the lead graphic designer for The Runaway Robot and is the artist who created the drawing that first inspired Ogloza to start the company.
“Around a year ago, I acquired a drawing tablet for fun, as I had always liked to doodle in class. After playing around, I began to develop the character that would later become the mascot for Runaway Robot, as he was featured in many of my drawings,” Hayase-Izu said.
Ogloza said that as a novice entrepreneur it has not been easy to run the company and order the merchandise.
“I didn’t know anything about the T-shirt industry when I first started Runaway Robot, so a lot of what I’ve learned has been buying samples and testing [them] out,” Ogloza said. “After a while you start to get the feel of it and find something you will be proud of and be able to stand behind it.”
The company has required each of its members to venture into the clothing market in order to sell quality apparel. Diana Chan, a fourth-year psychology major and photographer for The Runaway Robot, said she had been interested in fashion when she was younger, but never got to pursue her dream. As part of the company, she now has the opportunity to expand her curiosity and knowledge of fashion with real-world applications.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that there [are] so [many] logistics behind the making of a quality shirt … and of course, how to differentiate ourselves from any other T-shirt company out there,” Chan said.
The Runaway Robot has proven to be successful.
“I want people to know that we are more than just T-shirts. I hope students begin to realize that one person truly can make an impact on social issues,” Chan said. “Sometimes all it takes is to buy a shirt that not only spreads the message to passersby when you wear it, but donates a part of its proceeds to such causes. It’s a wearable act of charity and I hope that anyone who knows about The Runaway Robot will come to realize that they have the potential to change the world.”
At the moment, The Runaway Robot’s short-term goal is to expand and become recognizable within the student body. The more people who like and buy their T-shirts, the greater the amount of help the enterprise will be able to provide to charities.
“We’re fortunate to be studying at one of the best public universities in the nation. We are surrounded by great people and have all of the necessary resources for success at our disposal,” Hayase-Izu said.
DANIEL RIESGO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.