Founder Stories from the Babson Hatchery
The following post is from Yushan Lou ’18, a Butler Venture Accelerator team member.
On April 8, we were honored to have three hatchery members for Founder Friday! They shared their entrepreneurial experiences with us as well as valuable advice for future entrepreneurs. The first hatchery member we met was Brendan Barbato ’17. Inspired by the famous Ice Bucket Challenge, he created Shelfie, an interactive, social platform where charities can create value, enhance their image, and strengthen customer intimacy by directly marketing to their customers through fun and exciting photo contests. The second hatchery member was Francine Gervazio M’16, co-founder of Cargo42, which is a digital platform that connects shippers to carriers reducing the empty-truck rate, simplifying and optimizing the way they do business. The last hatchery member was Bryanne Leeming M’16. She started JumpSmart, an educational technology company that helps kids from the age eight to twelve learn how to code through physical activity. It uses programmable mat that allows kids to create their own interactive games and experience the process of invention first-hand.
Here are some takeaways from their stories:
As a student entrepreneur, you have to choose your priority.
Balancing school and business is a real struggle for student entrepreneurs. Bryanne told us that it is very important for student entrepreneurs to choose a priority. If you want to dedicate to a startup idea, there is no way you can still focus on your grades, internships, clubs and other campus activities. You have to know which is more important to you. Even if your business may fail in the end, it is still an extremely valuable experience. As you search for jobs later on, you will have an amazing story behind your transcript. Francine and Brendan have set a routine for every week. For example, Brendan spent Monday to Wednesday on School works, Thursday to Friday on his business, and Saturday for conference and other networking events; Francine stacks her classes on Monday and Thursday so that she can work at other time. Since working on a startup idea is a huge time commitment, you have to be prepared to sacrifice other activities and involvements.
Having a warm introduction with your investors.
Investors hear thousands of ideas every month, and how do you make your idea stand out? Having a warm introduction with your investors is a great way to raise up the chance of getting invested. If you are being introduced to the investors by their friends, the chance to make them listen to you is much higher. Also, it is important to know what your potential investors have invested before. A suitable investor can not only share the same passion as you do, but also give you great mentorship in a field. Meanwhile, receiving funding from Venture Capitalists at the very beginning stage of the business might cause you to lose ownership of your own company.
Finding the right people to work with.
Brendon started Shelfie about a year ago, and the biggest challenge he faced was choosing the right team. He reached out to more than a hundred universities and spent six months to find the people who is actually willing to take the risk and share the same passion as he does. It is also important to find the person who actually understand you. Bryanne said it was difficult to find people who actually understand children and education. When she was looking for product developers and designers, it took her lots of time to explain how products should come out to be. But when she met the people who actually have experiences with children and education, and share the same passions as hers, everything has become simplified.
See you at Founder Fridays at 11am in the Blank Center!