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August 16, 2012 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-08-16

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Designation Detr@it

A New Way To Buy School Supplies

Landau brothers launch Chalkfly, an online office supply store that gives back.


he Landau brothers have been
an entrepreneurial team since
they were in middle school,
and now Andrew and Ryan
are bringing their expertise to Detroit
in the realm of office supplies. Chalk-
fly is not your average office supply
store, however, as the Landaus' focus
is on reinventing the experience of
buying those items.
For the past two and a half months,
Andrew and Ryan — who live in Royal
Oak and Detroit, respectively — have
paid a lot of attention to creating a
culture surrounding their company
that is different from most others.
Ryan, 23, explained, "It's not what
we're selling that's important, but why
we're doing it."
The brothers started Chalkfly for a
multitude of reasons — ranging from
wanting to be a part of Detroit's re-
naissance, to wanting to help improve
education in America, to wanting to
help attract young, talented leader-
ship back to the city. "We wanted to
do something that was bigger than

MarieIle Temkin I IN Intern

ourselves," said Andrew, 26.
That mindset comes across in the
"giving back" side of Chalkfly: For each
purchase made on the website, the
person who bought the supplies can
donate 5 percent of their total pur-
chase to a teacher, school or organiza-
tion of their choice. If the purchaser
does not specify to whom the money
should be given, the Landaus have a
few organizations to which they auto-
matically give.
Their unique take on office supplies
caught the eye of the folks at Bizdom,
a nonprofit entrepreneurial accelera-
tor that mentors and funds tech-based
start-ups in Detroit and Cleveland.
"Having their support has been
amazing, and it's really given us a leg
up as we've gotten started," Ryan said.
"Bizdom's access to resources,
along with Chalkfly's business model
and the Landaus' passion for excel-
lence, are an amazing combination,"
said Maria LaLonde, recruiting and
development leader.
Each of the eight full-time Chalkfly

employees grew up
in the Metro Detroit
area, moved away
for a period of time,
and has now moved
back. The Landaus
grew up in West
Bloomfield, and
Andrew moved to
Chicago to work for
Google while Ryan
moved to Washing-
ton, D.C. to work
for IBM.
Andrew said,
"What initially drew
Members of the Chalkfly team: Aaron Wolff, Andrew
my attention to
Landau, Ryan Landau and Brandon Rottman.
move back was that
I could work with
for America in Charlotte, N.C. "My goal
my brother again, but it was also the
is to make teachers stop paying out of
fact that everyone was talking about
pocket for supplies," he said.
the new businesses and leaders com-
As Chalkfly develops further, An-
ing to Detroit."
drew said, "We want to grow a suc-
One of Chalkfly's employees, Aaron
cessful business in Detroit and be new
Wolff, 24, of Bloomfield Township,
leaders to help grow and cultivate
started working for the company fol-
more leaders to be a part of what's go-
lowing a two-year program with Teach
ing on in this city." Ei

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