ImpactX Podcast interview with Terrabase – 2018

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.

Transcript:

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.

Henrik:   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.

 

ImpactX Podcast interview with AuxMe – December 2018

Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with Matthew Erdner, Madeline Nelson and Jonathan Brakefield discuss their startup venture called AuxMe in the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.

 

Transcript:

Henrik:   This is the ImpactX Podcast. I’m Henrik de Gyor, Technical Entrepreneur [In Residence] at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. 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?

Jonathan:   I’m Jonathan Brakefield. I’m a marketing major here at the College of Charleston and I’m part of the AuxMe Team.

Matt:   I’m Matt Erdner. I’m a data science student here at the college as well as part of the AuxMe team.

Mads:   And I’m Mads Nelson, I’m an accounting major at the college. Also part of the AuxMe Team.

Henrik:   So congratulations on finishing your pitches a few days ago. Tell us how are you involved with ImpactX and what you’ve learned so far?

Matt:   We’re involved with ImpactX because we were one of the startups or like impact for companies to develop in their incubator. So right now we just finished up the program and are now alumnus of the program of ImpactX. So right now we’re kind of wrapping up things for this semester, finishing up stuff that we needed to do for AuxMe. Kind of tie that up and get ready for January and get things squared away for winter break.

Henrik:   And what were your successes and challenges with ImpactX to date?

Mads:   So if you’d follow along with our story from the very beginning, we’ve pivoted twice and it led us to our true passion of AuxMe. Our success is our near 600 subscribers just waiting to hit the market, which is really amazing. We also have four partner DJs as well, that and also just waiting for AuxMe to hit the market. They’ve already agreed to integrate with us as soon as we have our development finished, which is really pretty amazing and venues who are waiting for us to have launch parties and stuff at their venues.

Matt:   Some of the things that we kind of struggled with or still kinda currently struggling with are, you know, just getting the [AuxMe] App process, getting the development process started, getting all those things kind of figured out and the best way of doing that as well.

Henrik:   What advice would you like to share with future entrepreneurs and ImpactX cohorts after you that you’ve learned in this process?

Jonathan:   Don’t underestimate how much time you should spend on something that you’re passionate about because this is a thing you’re gonna think, oh, it’s just the three hours spending in class on Monday and Wednesday, but if you really enjoy it, it should be more than that. You should be like super excited. I was going to say giddy. Be super excited to text your group chat about like something awesome that you found out or if you’re not, then you’d probably working on the wrong project and, so definitely figure that out as early as possible. But you know, that’s hard to do, but definitely don’t be afraid to pivot until so you find that.

Mads:   Yeah, definitely find people that you’re working with have been really fortunate because we have clicked since day one. We didn’t know each other. I don’t know about… You’ll didn’t know each other, right? None of us knew each other before and don’t really truly been friends had it not been for ImpactX because we all run in different crowds. So that’s a really cool thing, but it’s definitely has set teams back is not getting along and not being totally transparent with each other. And I think that’s what’s really got us to the point where we were just super close, which is cool.

Matt:   Yeah. And then what I would kind of tell the people coming in is take advantage of the experience because the way that this program is set up, there’s not a lot of colleges or programs even at this college that offer this kind of thing, so really like, go full throttle, go diving in and go after everything. You’re going to get a lot of connections through this. Make sure you develop those connections, stay with those connections so you keep them and you’ll develop a lot of great friendships, learning experiences. Just don’t really take it for granted is what I would say. Stay tuned for the AuxMe Development and launch parties.

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.

 

ImpactX Podcast interview with AuxMe – November 2018

Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with Matthew Erdner, Madeline Nelson and Jonathan Brakefield discuss their startup venture called AuxMe in the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.

Transcript:

Henrik:   This is the ImpactX Podcast. I’m Henrik de Gyor, Technical Entrepreneur [In Residence] at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. 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?

Jonathan:   I’m Jonathan Brakefield. I’m a marketing major and part of this team.

Matthew:   I am Matthew Erdner, Data science major. I’m a junior here at the College.

Mads:   And I’m Mads Nelson. I’m a finance and accounting major here at the College of Charleston and I’m a senior.

Henrik:   How are you involved with entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston?

Jonathan:   So through the ImpactX program, we’re actually working on a new venture. It’s pretty exciting. We’ve since pivoted says the last time that we spoke with you and it’s a pretty cool idea.

Matthew:   Yeah. So as I say were involved with entrepreneurship obviously first and foremost through the ImpactX program at the business center and gives us a lot of great resources to bounce things off, bounce different ideas off different people, gained things, and just resources that we really need to kind of get our new venture growing, that kind of stuff.

Jonathan:   So yeah, so when we’re focusing on with our current venture is a partnership for the goals, you know, SDG number 17. We’re tackling that through music and how we can help the people who are maybe struggling musicians are students who can’t afford musical instruments that were actually doing that with our new kind of venture is called AuxMe. It’s a way… it’s a bidding system for people who go to bars or clubs or shows. So they can choose the music that they want and kind of a competitive manner. And we’re really excited about it. Think of a Jukebox, but … it’s mobile and it’s biddable. Biddable? Is that a word? Yeah. That’s what we’re doing.

Matthew:   Looking to drive competition amongst college markets, kind of targeting college bars, that kind of stuff. The younger generation, they’re more on their phone and that kind of thing, kind of plays right into their field.

Mads:   While also giving more revenue to DJs and certainly musicians.

Matthew:   And the way that we implement that is through a bidding system. So right now our model’s kind of starting off at $1 per bid for a song, and then kind of increments by a dollar. So like we said, we want to drive that competition amongst kids at the bar. Young adults I would say. So say they see their friend that at the top of the queue and they want to get above put in that extra money and get above them. And also with that, we’re trying to integrate Venmo into it. So it’ll be smooth and very easy for people to use. Like again, college kids are very adept to Venmo, they use that a lot. So it’s kind of a perfect fit with them.

Henrik:   What are the successes and challenges with your venture to date?

Mads:   I think our major success right now is the market itself. We’ve dove into this as a pivot and within 24 hours the responses that we’ve received an immense. We have over 61 subscribers already to our app and we have about five DJs that are known to our App and we’re just trying to get everyone involved and on board with our idea.

Matthew:   Yeah, we’ve done a good bit of market research, almost 250 responses since the time we put out a survey. We’ve got pretty much 90 percent of people that we surveyed are excited and ready to already ready to download it. Tons of feedback too. Tons of suggestions on what people would like to see. And it seems like it’s very much in line with what we’re working on, which is good.

Jonathan:   I would assume that the next few months or as this progresses that we could come into some legal trouble and trying to secure the idea, get provisional patents, all that stuff figured out. So just kinda the protection of the product before it actually gets to the market is one of the challenges that I could see coming up in the near future.

Henrik:   What advice would you like to share it with future entrepreneurs that you’ve learned in this process?

Jonathan:   Through this process, I’d say don’t be scared to pivot. Like last time we talked to you, we had a whole different idea, so it was kind of full 180. It’s never too late to pivot, so just kind of put your nose down and keep work and grind through it.

Matthew:   Plus, I mean find something that you’re passionate about. We said that last time and I think that it wasn’t until we actually found something that we were genuinely excited about until we actually started getting a lot of work done in really being okay with spending a lot of time on a project.

Mads:   I think my advice is definitely don’t be scared to take a gamble with these kinds of things. We definitely were scared a little bit with this idea just because it wasn’t the norm of impact until we really dove down into figuring out how we could impact the community and people around us with our company,

Matthew:   And just to add one extra big thing. It’s kind of different than the normal perspective of making an impact. We think it’s important that you make sure that you can sell products and that you can sell something before you focus on not necessarily before you focus on the impact. Keep the impact in mind, but without selling, without making an actual influence in the market, you have no way of making an actual impact. So it sorta make sure that you balance it in such a way that you put yourself in a really good position to make that impact.

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.

ImpactX Podcast interview with PlayItForward – October 2018

Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with Matthew Erdner, Madeline Nelson and Jonathan Brakefield discuss their startup venture called PlayItForward in the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.

Transcript:

Henrik:   This is the ImpactX Podcast. I’m Henrik de Gyor, Technical Entrepreneur [In Residence] at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. 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?

Matthew:   I’m Matthew Erdner. ImpactX Student. Major is Data Science. I have a concentration in Business Analytics with a minor in Economics.

Jonathan:   I’m Jonathan Brakefield. I’m a senior Marketing major and a member of the ImpactX program. I’m mostly focusing on digital marketing, but really excited about ads.

Mads:   And I’m Mads Nelson I’m also a senior and I’m a finance major with a minor in accounting and I have a concentration in leadership and I’m also a member of the ImpactX Scholars Program.

Henrik:   How are you involved with ImpactX?

Matthew:   We’re involved with the SDG goal number 13. So that’s climate action. And what we do at this to climate action is look for tire pits just sitting there that are able to catch fire pretty easily. So we try and take those tires and our goal right now is to break those down, get the rubber from that and kind of put it in a sports ball. So playing with that is to make a sports bladder out of the tires and then eventually transitioned that into a new sports ball and then go into a one for one program. So for every one sold, one would be donated around the world to third world country to less fortunate children. They will then have the ability to play with the sports ball that they may not have ever had the ability to play with and it kind of spreads around the world

Jonathan:   It’s really cool thing that we’re going to implement with it is for every time you purchased one of our sports balls, then you can go online to our website aroundtheglobesports.com and you can actually track where the rubber came from that ball and then you can track it as, you know, the one that we ship out to another country or to less fortunate and you can see that the type of impact you’re making and meet the people that we’re sending it to.

Henrik:   What are the successes and challenges with your ImpactX venture to date?

Mads:   Our success right now is just our market research and analysis of our actual company. We’ve had so many surveys come back into us and see what we’re doing is there and the market is there for a company to really disrupt the market and come into it full force and people are totally on board of, you know, once we come up with our product and have it out there, people definitely be there to buy it. And so that’s really awesome. Our challenge though right now is just trying to figure out, you know, engineers to help us build our balls and figuring out what if we’re going to use 100 percent recycled repurpose rubber or if we are going to use latex inside the bladder. I’m just trying to get the logistics and the cost of our actual ball, seeing what our profit margin and that sort of thing will be.

Jonathan:   Good thing to know. For college students, it’s a little bit harder for us to break into a market like this. Even if we have it all planned out, you know. So this is why we’re in this program for.

Mads:   Here is another success. It’s getting people on board with us, which is really awesome. I have contact with Lockheed Martin and so they’re gonna try to help us out with the engineering side and hopefully have partnerships with other nonprofits and those kinds of companies.

Jonathan:   People are really excited about the one for one idea. While a lot of people like to say that they spend more money on things that are recycled, some people just can’t afford to, but the whole one for one thing, people are really behind that.

Matthew:   With our over 200 surveyed, at least 80 percent of the people said that they would be willing to pay a little bit extra because of the one for one program. So it was really good reinforcement from the market research that we were able to get.

Henrik:   Excellent. Yeah. Especially modeling after, I guess Tom’s shoes was one of the first to do that. That was obviously a popular model, so congratulations on that. And what advice would you like to share with future entrepreneurs that you’ve learned so far in the process?

Jonathan:   Don’t be, especially in the beginning of when we started ImpactX, we started with an idea and we got really great feedback with it. It was a, think Fitbit for horse carriage [in Charleston], you know, horses to help monitor their health and things like that. But it was… we thought it was a really great idea to run with, you know, they were going to be some complications along the way, but we were willing to take those on and we got great feedback from. No one really thought that we should have pivoted, but we realized as we worked on it, we weren’t really passionate about this, you know, idea. It made whenever we hit a roadblock, we were less excited about, you know, getting past that roadblock. So we ended up pivoting and I think was surprising people with it, but it was something that we jumped into something that we’re more passionate about. So definitely do what you’re passionate about and don’t be scared to pivot if you know, you find that you’re not really feeling what you’re doing now, even if it’s successful.

Matthew:   I’m going to add on to Jonathan there like what you said about being passionate about it. You know, you’re not passionate about it, it’s hard to find that motivation. And when you’re passionate about it, you’re always motivated to take that extra step and do exactly what you need to do to become successful.

Mads:   Definitely our passion there all three of us are definitely sportspeople. Playing or watching sports in general. It’s just always been passionate since a young age. So I think pivoting from a successful venture idea to something that we’re passionate has definitely just been something that we’re definitely grateful for doing.

Henrik:   Great. Did you see any interest level changing as far as more interest in one venture over the other?

Mads:   Yeah, definitely. I definitely would say we definitely have more interest now. Our Fitbit idea was a really cool idea. It definitely would have provided a lot of challenges for us and this one will too, but we definitely see with our mentors and our class saying people that we’ve talked to outside that this is definitely more doable for us and just the feedback that we’ve gotten the interest is just there. We can definitely disrupt this market.

Matthew:   And something to add to that is because you’re kind of tying yourself in with the horses to only certain markets in certain locations, but was sports, there’s soccer played in over 200 countries worldwide. Everybody knows about it. Everybody’s involved in it one way or another. Like I’ve been saying, the only thing that brings people together more than an extreme tragedy is sports. Might as well just run with that.

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.


 

 

ImpactX Podcast interview with David Wyman

Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with David Wyman, Ph.D. discuss the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:   This is the ImpactX Podcast. I’m Henrik de Gyor, Technical Entrepreneur [In Residence] at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. 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 de Gyor:   Who are you and what do you do?

Dave Wyman:   My name is Dave Wyman. I’m the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston. At the Center for Entrepreneurship, our mission is to provide our students with experiential activities and connect them to the greater entrepreneurial network in Charleston and beyond.

Henrik de Gyor:   How are you involved with ImpactX?

Dave Wyman:   So the idea of ImpactX originates from a joint collaboration with a number of different players in the College of Charleston, including Christopher Star, who was at that time the Chair of the Computing Science Department. And the idea was that really we tried to design a program that we would want to take and that we thought was missing for college students. And the basis of this idea is to take one computer science students, one liberal arts and one business student i.e. create diversity in teams, put them together, and let them entrepreneur and create away. So what we use is a various elements of Steve Blank, the business model canvas, lean startups. We take a lot of the theory and practice from the lean startup era and apply that to the students to actually create their own technologically enabled startup. So that’s essential idea.

Dave Wyman:   The second element of the idea is about three years ago one of our collaborators, Stuart Williams suggested “you know guys, a way to make this better…” And we’re always listening to ideas for how to make things better “…is to not just have the students create businesses that make a profit, but really put them into a situation where they can create a business that makes both of profit while making a difference. This idea really resonates with us, number one, because the millennials are really all about making a difference, trying to clean up the problems that us baby boomers got them. So that is really positive impact.

Dave Wyman:   Secondly, the making a difference idea resonates because some of the pure profit ones with college students tended to be things like bar apps which are kind of fun but really don’t really make a big difference in the greater world. So this really allows the students to make a huge impact, both societal and environmental issues, which we believe are the greatest problems facing our society in the 21st century.

Henrik de Gyor:   Dave, what are the successes and challenges with ImpactX to date?

Dave Wyman:   Our aim is to actually create a… To enhance the entrepreneurial thinking of the students. So it’s not the aim is not that everybody creates a startup that makes it to the real world. Having said that so we can change their mindset and give them the tools to be entrepreneurial in the future. That’s fantastic. We don’t recommend that everybody drop out of school and do a Bill Gates and start their own business at age 19. You know, what research suggests is that most people who are really successful entrepreneurs, they start young but their main business that really makes it as probably in their thirties. So we’re really just trying to give them the tools. So I consider it like playing golf. The earlier you start, the better you’re going to get. But Garrett success is not guaranteed on the golf course. So they are not guaranteed, you know, the business for either.

Dave Wyman:   So one of our biggest successes is the fact that a number of the businesses I’ve actually made it and really are making a difference. We have, for example, one team has raised over a quarter of a million dollars, so that’s about as the third best fin-tech accelerator in Atlanta, Georgia area, another team out of 500 companies, so selected to be one of the six teams in the Queen City Accelerator and Charlotte, another team was invited to spend the summer in Beaufort [SC] by the Mayor of Beaufort and the Rotary Club and spent the whole summer with them. So we’ve got those sort of successes even from our very first accelerator, we have a team led by Brandon and Brooks which did a company called Jyve and it’s still existing and here almost four years later. So those are some of the real great successes. But our real determinant of success is have we actually helped the students. Have we helped them realize their own entrepreneurial ambitions and thoughts even if that doesn’t mean starting companies straightaway. And I think the results from that are very positive feedback from the students. Amazing feedback. The challenges are that, you know, our biggest challenge is actually probably finding computer science students because of the nature of the College of Charleston as a liberal arts institution. We had very few computer science students and we’ve actually had very few honors students, so two have the initial pools from the class we really haven’t realize, but we’ve been able to manage around that.

Henrik de Gyor:   Dave, what advice would you like to share it with future entrepreneurs that you’ve learned in the process?

Dave Wyman:   The three pieces of advice I would say for future entrepreneurs is number one is that when you’re looking for new ideas, you really need a combination of two things. One is you need to get data first and then second, follow your passion from where that data leads you. What we found is if you do, if you don’t analyze the data, you don’t do a lot of the basic secondary research where you’re looking up online, talking primary research where you’re actually going and talking to future customers, competitors and things like that, then you end up with a business that sounds good, but really has no backbone. Then secondly, it’s when you create a team, you know, you really want something that people are passionate about. So what we found is that our successes as actual startups are things where the people, the students have utilized data and then followed their passion. So data first and passion. So the combination of both of those is really, I think, critical to success.

Dave Wyman:   The second critical element of success is that you’re only as good as your network while we are blessed here in South Carolina, is that we have a number of Entrepreneurs In Residence, including you Henrik. Also, Stuart Williams who’s our Social Environmental Entrepreneur In Residence. You, who really helped out with all the technology side for the students. Also, Michael Cahill comes in every Spring and how with legal and venture capital background. As well as the fact that every student team typically has two mentors, one business venture and one technology mentor. So this incredible network around with students is really critical for their success. We also, as an academic, we have to do research. And so me and a couple of colleagues, I’ve just had a paper accepted at a major international conference called RENT in Spain, a presentation next month.

Dave Wyman:   And what that paper does is it looks at all the early impact startups through a statistical study, not at all the early impact tries to tease out early impact studies startups out of a database of over a hundred thousand people. And what that shows is that the number one defining factor for whether you’re an impact startup, which is one of those startup that has a huge impact in terms of employment is social network. It’s in fact it’s the only variable that really resonates and cascades through all the top impact. So we think the social network is absolutely key for the creation of the entrepreneurial network.

Dave Wyman:   And the third is just a personal element for startup entrepreneurs. And I think what we see is you have to be adaptable. You have to be open to advice and you have to be willing to iterate. Again, never using the lean startup model, build, measure, learn. You have to learn and some people are, I think the biggest defining change… the biggest difference between a startup entrepreneur and others, is the ability to adapt. The ability to learn from the feedback and pivot if necessary or iterate further and people who are just not willing to change, those are the people who really should not be entrepreneurs and they can be many other elements of the entrepreneurial process, but they’re not going to be the entrepreneurial leaders that our society and environment demand for the future.

Henrik de Gyor:   Great. Well, Thanks Dave.

Dave Wyman:   Thank you, Henrik

Henrik de Gyor:   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.

ImpactX Podcast interview with Christopher Starr

Listen to the ImpactX Podcast interview with Christopher Starr, Ph.D. discuss the ImpactX Accelerator Program at the College of Charleston. You can also read the transcript below.

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:   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 students, 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 de Gyor:   Who are you and what do you do?

Chris Starr:   Henrik, I am Chris Starr. I’m a Professor of Information Management at the College of Charleston in the School of Business. I’ve been at the college for 32 years now as a instructor in computer science, chair of computer science, and now moved to the School of Business for a new opportunity to help students understand how to apply technology for business value. So I’d like to talk more about the ImpactX program.

Henrik de Gyor:   How are you involved with the ImpactX?

Chris Starr:   I am one of the co-founders of the ImpactX program with David Wyman. The ImpactX program grew out of a grassroots effort between faculty to break down the silos of academics. It’s intended to bring students together from computer science and technical departments, students from the liberal arts who think differently from a technical student and business students in a shared learning and experiential process of building a technical startup company. We started ImpactX under a different name four years ago with a half a million dollars in funding. Half from the State of South Carolina and half from philanthropy. So the program is self-sustaining through gifts from successful entrepreneurs of the past and continues to generate the next generation of entrepreneurs from the College of Charleston.

Chris Starr:   Chris, what are the successes and challenges within ImpactX to date?

Henrik de Gyor:   ImpactX, I think of as an experiment. It’s a successful experiment in showing how you can take highly capable students and put them together with a challenge to both learn academic concepts and apply those concepts in a way that provides experiential learning or perhaps even better consequential learning so they understand and are motivated by the experience to engage academically in the subject area that they’re studying in their major and in cross training, in subject areas that they’re not specializing in.

Chris Starr:   In ImpactX, the three topical areas include business, technology and design, and so students are organized into teams of three, each bringing in those capabilities as complementary assets to the team. So all the students come into the ImpactX program, signing up for two classes. One in technology that I teach, hosted by the Supply Chain and Information Management Department and the other class in Entrepreneurship.

Chris Starr:   It’s these two classes that carve out enough time in their academic schedules to allow them to study the concepts of business and technology with design and to implement a startup company going from zero to the first customer in 14 weeks. The challenges of ImpactX include finding enough time in a student’s schedule for high-end students who may already be double majoring or triple majoring in different subjects to graduate in four years and still start a company. Another challenge is to bring students together into a room where they do not all have the same prerequisites and they have to learn to deal with what it means to cross train. To compensate for these problems, we have done an outstanding job, I think, and bringing together resources for the student experience, including funding for actual product development and business formation, and mentors for the teams.

Chris Starr:   It has been our practice to bring two mentors in from the community for each team. One mentor will usually represent the business sector for a technical startup and the other will be a technologist who can help with the technical questions that the students have. The biggest and most important outcomes for me is how students will be in a class that doesn’t have a straight trajectory toward perfection or toward a grade of an A. Many of our students, all of whom are honorable and many in the honors program are accustomed to classes that are prescribed so they know exactly how to march through the academic material to achieve a level of performance that will result in mastery. And of course the grade of an A, but an ImpactX, the situation is quite different. The outcome, while they can articulate it isn’t easy to find that is not easy to start a start a company and do so by solving a real problem with a real solution for actual customers. And that level of ambiguity that ImpactX provides to these students is a learning outcome that’s quite rare at the university. And I’m quite proud that ImpactX can provide that now at the College of Charleston.

Henrik de Gyor:   Chris, what advice would you like to share with future entrepreneurs that you’ve learned in this process?

Chris Starr:   I’d like to encourage future entrepreneurs that they should start as early as possible. ImpactX brings in the undergraduates as actual cofounders of companies rather than waiting until midlife to start a company. It’s advantageous according to the literature to start early so that your experiences can grow over multiple iterations of company startups. And the second thing I would suggest is that everyone who’s interested in entrepreneurship study technology. You’ve got to understand how the technology enables the company to move forward and as a startup, your technology prowess may be the differentiator between success and failure.

Henrik de Gyor:   Well, thanks Chris.

Chris Starr:   You’re quite welcome.

Henrik de Gyor:   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.