Student entrepreneur creates product to help his fellow students

Brynn Boehler
November 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ezra Gershanok is currently studying abroad in London, but one of his largest accomplishments remains present in State College, Pennsylvania. As a junior majoring in economics and letters, arts, and sciences, Gershanok has already created a successful business with his former roommate, Jacob Halbert.

Gershanok came up with the idea for the “Keyper,” a silicone phone wallet that can hold credit cards and a student ID, as well as a key, during his first year at Penn State. After watching many students around him lose their room keys, Gershanok wanted a product that would hold all of the “essentials” that a college student needs.  

Image of phone wallet

Ezra Gershanok came up with the idea for the “Keyper,” a silicone phone wallet that can hold credit cards and a student ID, as well as a key, during his first year at Penn State. As a junior majoring in economics and letters, arts, and sciences, Gershanok has already created a successful business with his former roommate, Jacob Halbert.

IMAGE: Provided on Keyper website

In 2018, Gershanok and Halbert began the business process together all the way from designing the actual product to creating a business and taking care of the logistics of production and distribution. Today, the Keyper is currently available for purchase in the Student Bookstore and the Family Clothesline stores in downtown State College, as well as online at TheKeyper.com. All first-year students in the College of the Liberal Arts received a Keyper at the First-Year Welcome in August and heard from Gershanok about the possibilities within the College of the Liberal Arts.

According to Gershanok, the pair aspires to take the Keyper further outside the bounds of State College by pitching the idea to catalogs and larger stores. Reaching this point, however, required significant effort and taught Gershanok important lessons about the meaning of entrepreneurship.

One of these was the value of great business partnerships. “I found a business partner who was skilled and interested in the aspects of the business that I was less skilled in. He is responsible for getting this product off the ground, creating our online store, applying for a patent, and so much more,” Gershanok said.

The other main lesson that Gershanok learned from the process of starting a business was the value of acting decisively and not waiting to start a project.

“I was shocked at how simple it is to actually do what is in your imagination,” Gershanok said. “I thought it would be hard to find a producer (for the Keyper), but it was simply a matter of reaching out and scheduling phone calls.”

Gershanok’s latest imaginative ideas are focused toward an honors thesis, which he will complete upon his return to Penn State. For this new project, he hopes to focus on behavioral economics. Namely, Gershanok aims to design and test a system to encourage recycling.

In reflecting on his entrepreneurial experiences and his outlook on the future, Gershanok encourages other students to take a similar approach — to be creative and act on their own dreams.

“Even though you are a student who may have never started a business before, you do not need to wait until you are old enough, educated enough, or experienced enough to bring your idea to reality,” Gershanok said.

To learn more about Ezra Gershanok and other Liberal Arts Change Makers, visit la.psu.edu/changemakers.

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Last Updated November 08, 2019