Siena Heights Student Gilius Blinstrubas ’17 Follows in his Family’s Entrepreneurial Footsteps
His grandfather started one.
His father started one.
So, it’s not that unusual that Gilius (pronounced GIL-us) Blinstrubas (far right) decided to start his own business. What is unusual is that Blinstrubas started not one—but two—businesses before beginning his junior year at Siena Heights University.
“It takes a special person to do it,” Blinstrubas said. “I really enjoy business. I spend a lot of time reading business books, articles and talking to people about business. It doesn’t feel like work.”
The grandson of Lithuanian immigrants who came to the U.S. during World War II, Blinstrubas’ grandfather started his own tool-and-die business, and his father a law firm. Their entrepreneurial example inspired him to start his first business in 2013 as a freshman at SHU.
“I love stickers, and I know other people do, too,” Blinstrubas said of the origins of his start-up business concept. “You put logos on cups, balls and T-shirts. Stickers would be cool on a light switch.”
Using that idea, he started Switch Art, a company that designs custom graphics to cover light switch plates. Most of his business is web-based, and Blinstrubas said he has already learned a lot from that experience. The native of Downers Grove, Ill., and business major said he has recently “pivoted” from his initial strategy of selling his product directly to consumers and now has taken on more of a business-to-business approach.
“We are reaching out to companies to design for them,” he said. “We then sell it for them, or they will resell.”
His newest business venture—launched in August—is a subscription box company on the social media channel Instagram geared towards fellow entrepreneurs and business people.
“It’s like the Dollar Shave Club,” said Blinstrubas of his Business Box Club startup. “Once a month, we ship out a package to your door full of goodies. The items are geared towards business, like business books, roll-up keyboards and portable chargers. … There’s not a subscription box that gears toward entrepreneurs, and there’s a large market for it.”
Currently he has more than 2,500 Instagram followers, and between 50-100 subscribers to his box club. He said the goal is 10,000 followers and at least 1,000 subscribers.
“Social media is a huge place for businesses to put out their stuff,” Blinstrubas said.
He said making money is not the reason why he started his businesses.
“Why I started these businesses now in college is to learn from them,” Blinstrubas said. “That’s the main goal, is to do what I love and learn from the mistakes so I don’t make them in the future.”
In fact, he said his education is his main focus. As proof, he recently had to make the difficult decision to leave the SHU men’s volleyball team, where he was an all-conference performer.
“It’s time-consuming, and I don’t want to spread myself out too thin,” Blinstrubas said of his decision. “School is first and foremost for me. I want to make sure I do well in my academics. And other things need my attention.”
One of those “other things” is the new Entrepreneur Club he and several other students recently started on the SHU campus.
“I created the idea,” he said. “There was no business club, so I started one.”
He reached out to classmates Brody Davidson, John Holowaty, Parker Ross, Jake Haley and Nick Campbell, who serve as the club’s “board members.”
“The main goal is for it to be a comfortable place where kids can come in and network with each other and talk about business and learn and grow together,” Blinstrubas said. “Our slogan is ‘Grow With Us.’ ”
He said the club plans to bring in CEOs and other business leaders as guest speakers as well as make field trips to local businesses.
“We’re opening it up to everyone. We want to build the club around the community,” he added.
Blinstrubas said he hopes to start his own technology business after he graduates.
“Being your own boss is awesome,” he said. “Do it because you have a passion for it. Working on something you are passionate about and growing something that you believe in is just an awesome reward.”