Numerous entrepreneurs have left the University of North Carolina to start a company. Andrew Royce Bauer came to Chapel Hill preparing to take over one. And now he’s getting ready to launch a key retail product on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Bauer, 20, is a second year student in UNC’s Innovation Scholars Program. He’s also CEO of Royce Leather, a company that sells high-end fashion products and accessories. On Black Friday, retailers around the country will start selling Royce’s latest product: a leather wallet equipped with GPS technology for tracking in case of theft.

The wallet technology is a product of Bauer’s own experiences. The Neptune, N.J. native is accustomed to urban crime; Bauer recalled that his wallet was stolen numerous times when he was in high school. Last summer, a gun was pulled on him in the latest theft attempt. The experience spurred Bauer to try to find a business solution.

“I run a luggage and travel goods company that sells wallets,” Bauer said. “Why can’t I make sure that the wallets I sell won’t ever be stolen again?”

Entrepreneurship came early to Bauer. As a child he he kept his Halloween candy and sold it to other children at Christmas for a profit. By eighth grade, Bauer was helping out in the family business. The company that is now Royce was founded in New York in 1974 as Emporium Leather by Bauer’s father, Harold Bauer. Emporium Leather focused on promotional products, such as private label items made for corporate clients. But as Harold Bauer got older and Andrew Bauer expressed interest in carrying on the family business, transition plans were made for Bauer to take over from his father – all while he was a full-time student at UNC.

Bauer came to Chapel Hill because he said that compared to other business programs he considered, UNC had the most to offer him. Besides a full scholarship, Bauer and other students in the Innovations Scholars Program receives mentoring and other entrepreneurial support. After his first year at UNC, Bauer took over the family business. Now known as Royce, Bauer’s middle name, the company is focusing on higher end fashion products sold online and through retailers. Royce products are available in stores such as Brookstone, The Sharper Image, David’s Bridal, Sears and Kohl’s. Internationally, Royce products are sold in the upscale Harrods department store in London as well as online retailers around the world.

This year was Bauer’s first full year leading Royce. He’s also a full-time student. Despite working for Royce seven days a week he’s still an honors student with a 3.7 grade point average.

“The traveling makes it harder but I’m able to manage it,” he said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to do both.”

The success of Royce’s expansion beyond promotional products is evident in the company’s sales growth. This year Inc. magazine named Royce to its list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies, ranking the Secaucus, N.J.-based company No. 3,284 on the list. Bauer projects 2013 revenue will be about $5 million.

The Royce Freedom Wallet is Royce’s newest product. A Silicon Valley-based development team has spent the last year working on GPS technology that can be unobtrusively incorporated into a wallet. The GPS system fits in a small wallet opening. The Royce Freedom Wallets also includes material that blocks radio frequency identification signals, which savvy thieves can use to try to steal personal information electronically. Bauer said technology doesn’t add much weight or bulk. As far as a consumer can tell, it’s part of the wallet itself.

A stolen wallet would be tracked through an app consumers download to their smartphones. A theft triggers an alarm on the user’s phone. Bauer says users can try to find their wallets before contacting police. In the future, Bauer envisions users of the technology can form a community to be on the lookout when a theft is reported. Police could supplement that effort.

Bauer acknowledged that a thief could ditch the wallet after grabbing the cash and credit cards. But he thinks it’s unlikely they’ll do so. Royce makes high-end accessories and the wallets, handmade with top grain leather, aren’t cheap. The Royce Freedom Wallet, including GPS and RFID-blocking technology, retails for $99. Without the technology, Bauer said a comparable wallet would sell for about $65. He frames the technology as a security investment.

“The cost of not buying the wallet, in terms of losing your wallet, losing your credit card, losing your valuables, is a lot more than the price of paying for the wallet,” Bauer said.

Bauer doesn’t have any patents protecting the anti-theft technology. Seeking patents would take time and resources away from focusing on developing and marketing the product, he said. Bauer acknowledged that a competitor could reverse engineer the technology or copy it but he said that besides introducing the technology to briefcases, passport holders and other items, there’s more advances to come. Without going into specifics, he said has more ideas for expanding Royce’s offerings.

“A lot of companies copied what Apple did when they released the iPhone,” Bauer said. “In the end, you want to be the one leading the way. I want to be the one leading the way in creating GPS tracking and RFID blocking wallets.”