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Undergraduate’s startup called one of the country’s coolest

USC Dornsife sophomore succeeds as entrepreneur with a company that supplies games, gadgets and art sculptures on a monthly basis

Cubeforme
CubeForme is a subscription service offering monthly 3-D art deliveries. (Photo/Courtesy of Kyle Pham)

Many people are familiar with the community supported agriculture boxes that deliver local, seasonal produce to your kitchen every month. But what if you could additional treats in the mail on a monthly basis — say small, 3-D printed sculptures?

Thanks to USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences undergraduate Kyle Pham, now you can.

Pham is co-founder of CubeForme, a startup company that curates a monthly subscription box for $15 showcasing 3-D printed creations from featured designers from across the globe. The goodies, which are manufactured and shipped directly, include gadgets, accessories, games and art sculptures.

“Subscription boxes are a huge trend, so it was our way of taking these 3-D printed creations and bringing them to a broader audience,” Pham said. “It also worked well in terms of supporting designers since there’s a different box each month. In a sense, it’s a growing gallery of different designers’ work that comes out monthly.”

In March, Inc. magazine featured CubeForme as one of the “16 Coolest College Startups of 2016.”

“It’s my goal and passion to reach new heights with CubeForme,” Pham said.

Entering entrepreneurship

Though Pham eventually would like to be a lawyer, he’s always had an entrepreneurial impulse. He met his business partner, Nick Nguyen, a student at University of California, Irvine, when they were second-graders in Orange County. They later talked about entrepreneurship in high school, Pham said, but became serious when they got to college and realized how many resources were available.

3D art

CubeForme subscribers get 3-D art from different designers each month. (Photo/Courtesy of Kyle Pham)

At USC Dornsife, Pham enrolled in James Bottom’s “Launching a Startup” freshman seminar. Bottom is the director of Blackstone Launchpad at USC, a program that started in 2014 as part of a national initiative providing mentorship and support to college students. The program aims to lower the barrier of entry for students of all disciplines who want to be entrepreneurs.

The goal for students in Bottom’s seminar is to carry an idea from conception through the early testing stage in a single semester. The experience led to CubeForme’s creation.

“Kyle is an exceptional student with keen entrepreneurial insights,” Bottom said. “He is a very ambitious student, and he’s double majoring in areas that will help him become an even stronger startup founder. That and his passion for 3-D printing will make a lasting impact on the industry.”

Pham, in turn, called Bottom an enthusiastic, capable and knowledgeable person.

“He really knows how to push you to launch and take the initiative. To me that’s been the most important lesson or element of entrepreneurship — taking initiative. It’s so fundamentally important.”

Pham is also involved with Novus Think Tank, an interdisciplinary student organization dedicated to supporting innovation at USC. The group’s activities include case competitions and providing consultations for local startups, he said.

A simple undertaking

What motivates Pham most in his entrepreneurial undertaking — and all the associated experiences and challenges — is pretty simple.

I just really like the notion of creating.

Kyle Pham

“I just really like the notion of creating,” he said. “This venture is almost entirely led by my co-founder and myself so there’s a unique feeling in just having something and calling it your own, being entirely responsible for it and being able to watch it grow. It’s a way to spend my time meaningfully.”

Pham, a double major in cognitive science and philosophy, politics and law, talked about the importance of critical thinking as well as communicating with and seeking advice from a variety of sources, from friends to advisers.

“They’re all pieces of insight and perspective other than your own that can really help you make the right decision — a better decision,” he said. “That might be the Dornsife student in me since Dornsife is all about thinking. But applied to entrepreneurship and my life as a whole, there’s so much value to understanding other perspectives and opinions and meshing them with your own.”

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