2022 Most Disruptive Business School Startups: Beacon Book Box, University of Michigan (Ross)

Beacon Book Box

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Industry: E-commerce, Retail

Founding Student Name(s): Cameron Allen, BBA ‘25

Brief Description of Solution: When I was researching book subscription services back in the summer of 2017, I could not find any companies that were run by individuals my age, nor brand statements that embodied a familial, customer-oriented experience. Thus, Beacon Book Box was born with the mission of formulating a diverse community of people from various backgrounds connected by a single passion: books.

What led you to launch this venture? I grew up an avid reader, always being surrounded by and immersed within stories. My family likes to joke with me that I have had an “entrepreneurial bug” since a young age, when I first started to sell arts and crafts to my Nana and Bumpa at the age of seven. I had always wanted to combine my two strongest interests – reading and entrepreneurship – and discovered a YouTube video the summer before high school about a service where you would get a new book and bookish merchandise items delivered to your door monthly. I was enamored with this idea, and I fell down a rabbit hole of information about this niche market. After noticing none of the companies were family-run, I decided to follow my entrepreneurial curiosity and turn my passion of reading into a monthly book subscription service. In December of 2017, I went to my parents with spreadsheets detailing box curations and start-up expenses. After research on their end, they decided to jump on board and support my dreams of running a business revolving around my love of books. I used money from my savings account and a family friend’s loan of $10,000 to jumpstart this dream, and that’s resulted now in over $2 million in revenue over the past four-and-a-half years.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? My first thought was the revenue figure: $2+ million is a lot of money for not just a teenager to be seeing, but for any normal human. However, I think my biggest accomplishment has been the growth of my network. I have worked with small businesses, individual artists from across the globe all the way up to #1 New York Times bestselling authors and executives in the Big Five publishing houses. These relationships did not form out of thin air, rather the effort and work I put into establishing them over the years. These individuals have shaped the growth of my business, and I will continue to partner with them on projects to come.

How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? As a current BBA student at Michigan Ross, I have a plethora of resources at my disposal – not to mention the army of faculty willing to assist me in my endeavors. I have had experiences both inside of the classroom and outside that have helped me further Beacon Book Box. In class, I have world-class professors who inspire me to keep building my brand and incorporate principles from classwork into my business’ framework. Inside and outside of class, I am surrounded by like-minded business enthusiasts who continue to challenge me to think outside of the box. For example, a consulting club I am a part of on campus has given me the opportunity to work with local and Fortune 500 companies, talk with their leadership teams, and reflect back on their missions in a way to better my company.

Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Introduction to Business Communications was an incredible experience last semester. I have always thought of myself as a decent communicator, but this class really delved into the importance of proper communication and how to most effectively brand yourself. I was thrown into mock interviews, acted as a recruiter from a Fortune 500, and even recounted personal experiences and tied them back to my passion for business. All of this taught me how to grow as a communicator in a business setting, but also how to convey stories to people regardless of the situation.

What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Building off my business communications course answer, what tied the class together was my phenomenal professor Mary Hinesly. During my senior year of high school, due to COVID-19 disruptions, admitted student events were held virtually in the spring. I attended a virtual mini-lecture about social media and business communication led by Mary Hinesly, who during the call asked me to give a 30-second elevator pitch about Beacon Book Box. Her knowledge during that Zoom lecture stuck with me, and I immediately signed up for her business communication class when I had the opportunity.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? I think a cliche, but very true answer would be my own mother, Melissa Kreuer-Allen. My mom has always been so passionate about everything she does and puts it into her work .

What is your long-term goal with your startup?  Let me preface that I never thought Beacon would grow to where it is today. 14-year-old me never thought he would be a vendor at the largest book convention in the country, meet and work with the authors who inspired him to start the company, or have such a large and dedicated following of amazing individuals. I would love to continue to grow the family of readers we know as the Beacon Family and reach audiences that have never heard of us before. I want to keep innovating and working with my amazing team with an end goal of selling. I attended a Ross Alumni Coffee Chat event two weeks ago that allowed me to connect with industry professionals and tell them the story of Beacon Book Box. Who knows, maybe one of those connections I made will lead somewhere!



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