By Dani Douglass
A lot of students have side hustles to offset the cost of paying for college and living in Hawai‘i. For Shidler College of Business marketing senior Jayson Siu, his car accessory business, called Invalid.jp, has turned to lucrative business. In 2022, Invalid.jp brought in $512,000 in revenue and continues to exceed that amount. Invalid.jp blew up after Siu posted a viral TikTok video in 2021, showcasing an LED-lined rearview mirror, which lead to $12,000 in sales in one day.
He started his business while he was a senior in high school and working for a valet company. Since stickers were a popular item, Siu decided to spend $300 to buy a vinyl printer and started selling his stickers to friends for a few dollars on Snapchat. He eventually outgrew selling stickers and wanted a product that could turn a higher profit. He stumbled across a LED-backlit review mirror on Instagram and knew that was his ticket. With $20, he ordered a mirror, popped out its glass and affixed LED lights and his popular “drive safe” sticker to it and the rest is history.
Shidler student Jayson Siu is a senior majoring in marketing.
In October 2023, CNBC reported on the young entrepreneur’s success and since then, Invalid.jp has continued to grow and expand its product offerings, now selling license plates, cupholders and visors. Siu is currently shifting his inventory to feature more apparel; and building a lifestyle surrounding the brand to ensure its longevity. He somehow manages all the ins and outs of owning a business while juggling a full-time class schedule. Time management is something that is imperative to his days and he is learning lessons along the way that improve his process.
“I try my best to schedule my classes in the morning so that I can spend the afternoons on my business,” he said. “During gaps between my classes, I can view my ads on my laptop and manage them. It does get hard sometimes, for example, Black Friday is the busiest day in e-commerce for all brands online. Having to pack orders and manage the influx of traffic while exams were about to start was really stressful. But with having to do it for the past two years, I think my stress management has improved a lot.”
Even though it can be a lot to manage at times, Siu sees the value of being both a student and a business owner simultaneously. He works long days to process orders and make sure he’s got enough inventory to fulfill customer demand. He now rents a warehouse instead of setting up shop in his parents’ apartment and knows that this hectic time in his life is a valuable opportunity to experience marketing from all angles. He has also enlisted the help of his mom and girlfriend to help with the orders and has freelancers helping with the TikTok videos.
“My Shidler education has helped me see a more textbook version of what I am doing,” he said. “I love seeing marketing from all perspectives. The core concepts of a business planning and learning concepts like the 4Ps have helped me in my business.”
Using concepts he’s acquired as a marketing student, he’s able to see the value of social media marketing and also pivoting platforms when necessary. He quickly realized the money he was spending advertising on Snapchat, YouTube and X was not turning into conversions so he decided to put it into TikTok, Google, Facebook and Instagram instead and saw the reach expand.
After he completes his bachelor’s degree, Siu plans to continue running Invalid.jp while also starting a marketing agency. Siu says that he often gets asked for advice on starting a business and that he’s reachable through Instagram @jaysonsteezy.
“I want to apply the same methods I use to other people’s business,” he said.