This article was written for our sponsor, the Town of Chapel Hill.

All great inventions start in unlikely places. For Apple, it was Steve Jobs’ parents’ garage in California. For Amazon, it was Jeff Bezos’ home office in Washington. For Carpe, it was a dorm room in central North Carolina.

Founded by Kasper Kubica and David Spratte, Carpe Antiperspirant Lotion started as a small collaboration between two college students aiming to solve the shared problem of excessively sweaty hands. Now, that small project has grown into a successful product, with nationwide distribution in stores like Target and CVS.

But in Kubica’s mind, they’re still just getting started.

“There’s a lot of people out there for whom there just hasn’t been an effective solution for excessive sweating. There hasn’t been a company that’s realized, ‘We need to make something that really focuses on the sweat — not just smelling nice, but actually feeling dry.’ I think we’re that answer for a lot of people,” Kubica said.

Although Spratte and Kubica created the product together, their meeting was largely influenced by chance. After all, Spratte was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying chemistry while Kubica was studying physics at Duke University 10 miles up the road. Even though the two didn’t attend the same institutions, both were Robertson Scholars, which granted them and a handful of other students the opportunity to take courses at both schools — and eventually cross paths with one another.

As their conversations delved further into hobbies, shared classes and extracurriculars, Spratte and Kubica eventually landed on one particular conversation topic: sweaty hands. After bonding over the uncomfortable condition, the two decided to get to work on a solution, and, thus, Carpe was born.

Initially, the testing phase was understandably low-budget.

“When we were developing it in the dorm room, we would actually put the prototype version on one hand and not put it on the other, then put latex gloves on either of our hands,” Kubica recalled. “We’d be watching scary YouTube videos of people hanging off buildings, and then one of our hands would get sweaty and the other hand wouldn’t — if it was a good prototype. That’s actually how we tested our way toward the current Carpe formula.”

At first thought, sweaty palms may not seem like the most worrisome medical condition, but for those who suffer from excessive hand perspiration, the negative effects can be particularly life-altering. The condition even has a name — hyperhidrosis — and affects the every-day lives of almost 8 million Americans.

Hyperhidrosis isn’t merely confined to sweaty palms, however; symptoms also include excessive sweat in the feet, armpits and facial regions. For those with the condition, it often leads to elevated insecurities, causing reluctance to make physical contact or engage in physical activities, as well as a tendency to withdraw out of fear of others noticing sweat or odors.

Those with hyperhidrosis aren’t less hygienic than their peers or in lesser physical shape. In fact, there are several underlying reasons why an individual could be suffering, but there isn’t a primary link. It can often be passed down through genetics or worsened by anxiety and depression.

Other potential aggravators include diabetes, alcohol abuse, certain medications and obesity.

Of course, for the product to really take off, Kubica and Spratte would have to move operations out of their dorm room and into the community. With the help of UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, the Orange County community, and fellow UNC student and chemist Chris Jenkins, they were able to secure funds from local investors and grants, get feedback on their product, and eventually send out the first batch of Carpe lotion with the help of a local manufacturing company.

“When we were just getting started and working on the formula, UNC allowed us to use their 1789 Incubator on Franklin Street. Our first sort of office was actually on Franklin Street,” Kubica recalled. “Around the same time, some of our very first funding came from the Orange County Small Business Development Grant. I think it was $5,000, and for a company like ours that had no assets — David and I were broke college students who had no money — that helped us get through the first year.”

With seed money and resources provided by the community, the team of two was able to take their product to the next level, soon establishing an office and production space in Durham before eventually finding their permanent home in Chapel Hill.

While entrepreneurship around the Triangle is generally strong, the unique collaborative environment offered by Chapel Hill was exactly what Kubica and Spratte were searching for.

“UNC definitely has one of the more open and welcoming entrepreneurship communities in the area. I think they’ve helped us out a massive amount, and we try to give back some and get involved in their programs, as well,” Kubica said.

While developing their company, Kubica and Spratte benefited from the unique resources offered by Chapel Hill and the surrounding community.

Bootstrap Advisors, a Durham organization of established entrepreneurs that offer guidance to start-ups, advised the budding business owners; 1789 Venture Lab provided office space; and collaboration with the Carolina and Duke Angel Networks offered mentorship and support.

Tackling a startup, especially as college students, is no easy feat, but for Kubica and Spratte, the resources and community offered largely by Chapel Hill and UNC made all the difference.

“You have to be crazy to be working on a startup, because it’s always so demanding. It’s always so scary. Especially in the early stages, it feels insanely risky — you’re not going to get through that without the support of all these people who are either doing it right now or have done it before you,” Kubica said. “I think that’s why startup communities are so key — that kind of friendly, emotional support, but also the practical support of, ‘Hey, you probably haven’t done this before. Here’s what we learned doing it.'”

While the Carpe team is still growing, Kubica doesn’t anticipate a move out of Chapel Hill anytime soon, and hopes that soon consumers all across the country will be aware of their product — and feel free to seize the day, sans sweat.

This article was written for our sponsor, the Town of Chapel Hill.