Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with Michael Edenzon, Tori Ireland and Sara Solomon discuss their startup venture called Terrabase in the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.
Henrik: This is the ImpactX Podcast. I’m Henrik de Gyor, Technical Entrepreneur [In Residence] at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. In this series of podcasts, I’m going to be interviewing students and professors from the ImpactX Accelerator inside the Business School at the College of Charleston. You’ll hear from the professors who run the program as well as all the students in each team participating in the accelerator. Each team comprises of a business student, a liberal arts student, and often a computer science student for a purposeful friction with different perspectives on the same problem that they’re trying to solve as a business. One of the unique aspects of the ImpactX Accelerator Program is the use of the UN sustainable development goals that are required for every venture by the ImpactX program so that you can make a profit while making an impact. Each team was interviewed a number of times as there are venture progresses. And now onto the interview.
Henrik: Who are you and what do you do?
Sara: My name is Sara Soloman. I am a Business admin and finance major and I do a little bit of everything.
Tori: I’m Tori Ireland. I’m a Business Administration major with a concentration leadership change and social responsibility. I’m the hustler with a Business Administration major. That’s what they call us in the ImpactX program.
Michael: I’m Mike Edenzon. I’m a computer information systems. Major. I’m a “hacker”, but as Sarah said, we all kind of wear a couple of different hats in this group.
Henrik: How are you involved with ImpactX?
Sara: So we just had a major pivot. We originally… but we stuck with the same SDG about decent work and economic growth for the most part. So our major pivot has now a lot to do with augmented reality [AR] and we want to be at forefront of this new technology.
Tori: I got involved in ImpactX program, our in our specific group, we kind of just… with business ever built up the marketing communications firm, like reaching out to other people and in that sense kind of networking
Michael: Yeah, as far as I got involved with ImpactX, you know I have a lot of ideas for different businesses and different companies. And so I think I got involved for that capacity and it’s kind of the role I’ve played in this group as well. As Tori said that, they do a lot of things as far as the business analytics side of it and reaching out to potential customers and market validation, I rely pretty heavily on them for that.
Henrik: What are the successes and challenges with your ImpactX venture to date?
Sara: So we really liked our first idea but we ran into challenges with patents and it already being started up by other companies. It had to do with project management time and now it was a really big challenge for us to decide to pivot and knowing when we really needed to pivot. And then once we pivoted, we wanted to be equally as passionate about it.
Tori: I guess it’s pretty tough to pivot, but it was all on us to make it was great. Through that we validated success with that and I wanted to mention how it’s great to kind of network within ImpactX and find different people including you and guest speakers, other people in the class. It’s really great to like grow our network and see that LinkedIn [grow the first month of getting an account].
Michael: I think one of our biggest successes so far has been we’ve gotten really good at messaging when it comes to complex concepts. I think that our first concept for business was something very precise and very intricate in nature. And the business value to be understood required a lot of backfill of knowledge on the industry and what are the demands on the space. And so I think that we went through a painful process of growing to understand how best to message that to the investors and when we made our pivot to the concept that I’d argue is even more complex, we had already gone through that process of trying to figure out the best way to message and so we’d been able to better adapt to that change. I think that’s been a real good success with it so far.
Henrik: And what advice would you like to share with future entrepreneurs that you’ve learned so far in this?
Sara: I think that it’s really important that you have a good group and that you’re able to work together and be honest and open with each other because that’s… we spend so much time together that like getting if we didn’t get along, make would make things even harder than it is.
Tori: Like we have said communications really makes this class. As I mentioned networking earlier, you get what you put into it, then you’ll have a better outcome.
Michael: I think that it’s really important to like the people that you work with. I like the people that I work with. I think they like me. I hope so. But I think that’s actually tremendously important because there are a lot of ups and downs and you know, there was a point in time when we looked at me, said all the things that we had been working for, more or less in different pieces with different companies had already been kind of sapped in the market and that kind of drained our energy a bit, but we enjoyed working together and that is what gave us what we needed to pivot and find a new concept. And so I think that nobody should underestimate the value of really enjoying the people that you work with. Our former product was called Ergonot Our new product is going to be called Terrabase.
Michael: Terrabase. Yeah.
Henrik: And what is the concept idea?
Michael: The concept is it’s a system, an engine for geographical mapping in the field of augmented reality. So the idea that a dimensional mapping exists on your phone, but to create a three dimensional map and a database via an API integration that developers have augmented reality applications can pay for as a service and seamlessly have the same functionality that a game like Pokemon Go has, where you see those augmented reality assets in the real world. And so we’re going to provide that as a service for customers and hopefully with the movement of Interpretive Space of augmented reality and the further integration of that’s going to happen in our life, there’s going to be an even greater demand in the next five to 10 years for technology. That sort of. We’re not going to be handling any of the rendering of these assets via augmented reality or video or anything that sort of.
Michael: We’re actually gonna leave that up to the native devices because Apple has created AR Kit. I think Google is developing something similar for the Android devices. There are already platforms that have been extensively built to render these AR assets. What we’re going to simply do is coordinate, and it’s going to be the coordination engine to place those objects at a latitude and longitude in the real world, in a system to manage that virtual real estate so that if you have a game and you pay for our service, we will support the capability, for example, for you to sell virtual real estate. So at a certain latitude and longitude, you’ll have a virtual volume that you can populate with whatever augmented reality assets you wish and we’re going to be that entire business as our service, which is a tremendous amount of overhead that we’re going to be eliminating for app developers so that they can get to market faster and have that component immediately, which has become very important for augmented reality.
Henrik: We hope you enjoyed listening to the ImpactX podcast. For more about the ImpactX program, visit impactx.cofc.edu. Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe to hear about future episodes. Thanks for listening.