PhD Posters
Place Order

Help Your Campus, Double Your Stipend

PhD Posters is recruiting entrepreneurially-minded students and postdocs

PhD Posters LLC was founded by three Duke PhD students, with the goal of bringing affordable research poster printing to their peers and colleagues. With locations in Raleigh-Durham, Boston, and Brooklyn, PhD Posters now prints more than 6,000 posters a year for researchers all over the US, and did more than $300,000 in sales in 2011.

We're looking for ambitious students or postdocs to open PhD Posters locations on other campuses. Each location is owned by the people who operate it; PhD Posters LLC provides support services in return for a share of the revenue. Start-up costs are less than $10k, but we are so confident in the business model that PhD Posters LLC intends to cover all startup costs for a handful of new locations in 2012-2013.

In exchange for some "sweat equity" -- a few hours in the evenings and on weekends -- you can own a PhD Posters location without raiding your savings or going into debt. Our past and current owners find that the work co-exists peacefully with a research career, and (after a few years) generates more income than their scientific work.

This is a pretty sweet deal, so we expect some competition for the new locations. Learn more below, and then contact us if you're interested: info@phdposters.com.

- Ian Davis and Brian Coggins, founders

What You Need

Requirements are minimal -- a printer, a computer, some software, and some supplies. The printer is about 6' long, 4' high, and 2' deep; it fits easily in an office, a guest bedroom, or the corner of your loft apartment. You also need a good market: a research university without a subsidized print shop. If everyone you know pays $100+ for a poster, you're in good shape.

What You Do

You commit to printing a certain number of posters (say, 5) every evening, and delivering them to your pick-up location the next weekday morning. Clients submit poster files and payment via our website, PhdPosters.com, and their delivery date is set based on the number of posters already in your queue. You'll correspond with them via email, and they'll pick up their poster from the designated pick-up location when it's ready. You have complete control over your hours and vacations.

Revenues and Profits

Each PhD Posters location is an independently-owned business engaged in a licensing agreement with PhD Posters LLC, which operates PhdPosters.com, processes orders and credit card payments, and provides other support services. In return, each location supports PhD Posters LLC with a small percentage of their revenues. We get no flat fees for licensing or franchising, so everyone is motivated to increase your customer base. Every business and every market is different, and no one can guarantee returns, but existing locations have found that 40-50% of revenues remain after all expenses as their profit.

Startup Funding

For a small number of new locations in 2011-2012, PhD Posters intends to provide $8,000 in start-up funds to cover the purchase of a wide-format printer, computer, and supplies. Initially, an additional percentage of revenues will go toward repayment of this investment, but without a fixed timetable, allowing each location to grow at its own pace. Each location should still be able to operate at a comfortable profit during the payback period. Alternately, favorable terms are available to those willing to cover their own start-up costs.

Getting Started

Starting a business isn't rocket science, but there's a lot to do. That's why we guide new operators through legal considerations, market research, acquiring equipment, initial advertising, operating the printer, and more. All locations are invited to participate in our mail-order poster business, which can provide a quick start while you work on developing local business.

Exit Strategy

Moving around is a fact of academic life. When the time comes to graduate, most of our operators choose to sell their business to younger students, possibly allowing them to pay for it over time. Other arrangements are possible, of course. For example, Amy and Gary chose to stay in Durham, and PhD Posters allows Amy to work part-time from home while raising their child.

About Us

PhD Posters LLC was founded by Ian Davis, Brian Coggins, and Colin Crossman in 2005, and we printed our first posters in early 2006. We have continued to grow significantly every year, despite the slow economy. Three additional people are currently involved in the business: Amy and Gary in Durham, NC, and Dan in Boston, MA. We also have several "alumni": Liz and Bob founded the UNC location (now merged with Duke), and Martha ran the Duke location for several years. We've all been graduate students at some point; some got PhDs, others changed careers, and some are still working at it. Contact us at info@phdposters.com.

The Founders


Brian


Ian


Colin

Location Owners


Amy, UNC


Gary, Duke


Dan, Boston

"Alumni"


Martha, Duke


Bob & Liz, UNC