Barnett Klane had the place to himself.
No other student sacrificed their Christmas Eve to work at the Whitman School of Management. But while his friends were all home for Syracuse University's holiday break, the business junior knew his time would be better spent alone, working to expand Klane Consulting, the speaker business he founded.
"I'd rather be home, but you know how it is," Klane told his friends. "Hard work pays off."
Klane became one of the most successful student entrepreneurs at SU with that mindset. When he first started, Klane was barely able to sell his sound equipment in Syracuse, but that didn't stop his determination.
That was three semesters ago, though. Klane Consulting has since become AmplifyU, a sound system and lighting business that supplies fraternities and sororities at six different universities nationwide. Last semester, Klane made regular sales and recruited several key mentors and advisors that he thinks will take AmplifyU to the next level.
Klane thinks his business will reach new heights sooner rather than later. In June, AmplifyU will release a one-of-a-kind iPhone App that walks users through their speaker set up.
"The goal is to put something out there that's so straightforward, my grandmother could set up a system," Klane said. "No one else out there will do what we do."
Klane worked hard to gain an edge in the industry. He said he doesn't view time off like other SU students do. Klane works on weekends and through vacations trying to connect with as many fraternities and sororities as possible.
On a business trip to fraternities at University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles, Klane noticed that his customers weren't getting what they needed. He found outdated and nearly-broken speakers that few fraternity brothers or sorority sisters knew how to fix.
"I wanted what was best for them," Klane said of his trip to the West Coast. "If they're trying to buy a speaker system when they need a six dollar cable, I'm there to help."
Klane said his upcoming iPhone app is just an extension of his commitment to customer service. Based on the needs of the buyer, Klane wants to be able to sell the best speakers and lighting, then solve all their AV-based problems. And Klane believes his company would be the only one in the sound system industry that would offer such a personalized customer experience.
Preston Peters of SU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Craig Leppert of Sigma Alpha Mu both became early customers because they saw just how far Klane was willing to do to help them out.
"Last weekend we were having an outdoor party and I was confused about the speaker stands," said Peters. "So of course I called Barnett. And in the midst of him setting up for a sorority formal he stopped in, helped me figure out the problem."
Added Leppert: "I'm happy to be involved as a customer so early on. Barnett and his company are going to be very big one day."
Other major sound companies agreed. Klane has several industry professionals advising him about AmplifyU and what it could one day become.
To the founder who worked through Christmas Eve, there's still work to be done.
"This company isn’t just about selling speakers or lights," Klane said. "It’s about taking a very complex group of products, and creating the ability for anyone to operate them correctly, and giving the 'average Joes' the access to professionals without a huge hassle.”