Category Archives: Entrepreneur Profiles

Shark Tank Campus Entrepreneurs, Ball Players Create Coffee Pouches

Just catching up on last nights Shark Tank and glad to see another campus entrepreneur doing well. College baseball players Pat and Matt hit hard with their coffee based chewing tobacco replacement. From the blog Shark Tank Success.

The two invented the Get Grinds Coffee Pouches while in college and playing baseball out in San Francisco, California as an alternative to regular chewing tobacco. By making their pouches using flavored coffee grounds and then adding the same ingredients found in energy drinks like Red Bull or the 5 Hour energy, they have essentially married two unrelated product’s in a rather unique form. The Get Grinds Coffee pouches is a perfect alternative to chewing tobacco and gives you an added boost at the same time.

Another unique advantage to the get Grinds Coffee Pouches especially if you already chew tobacco, is you do not need to continually spit. In Fact, it is encouraged not to spit because you gain more of the energy boosting ingredients by swallowing your saliva. No Kidding! You are essentially brewing the flavored coffee in your mouth. The only thing you need to spit out is the pouch when your done.

Love the flavors that these guys are offering. Also wondering if this could become a product that coffee consumers go for whether they trying to stop chewing tobacco or have never tried it. Here is a story on the ball players from Entrepreneur.

In 2008, after wrapping up their amateur season to return to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, to finish their degrees, the two men took the saying a step further.

One too-hot night while working on an economics project, they decided to skip out on brewing a pot of coffee in favor of doing what comes naturally to baseball players: They stuffed wads of grinds in their mouths.

“The buzz kicked in and we said, ‘Shoot, we might be on to something,’” Canepa says.

That something was Grinds, tiny chewable pouches of flavored coffee grinds. Each pouch contains about as much caffeine as a quarter cup of coffee, as well as a smattering of taurine and B vitamins.

Soon after their discovery, the duo dashed off a business plan that snagged $3,000 in a competition at their school’s business department. Later that year, they won $15,000 in a similar schoolwide contest, and a handful of judges signed on as investors. In June 2009, less than a year after the idea was born, Canepa and Pezet officially launched their company, also named Grinds.

 

via Shark Tank Success Stories : Get Grinds Coffee Pouch.

Elon Musk Plans to Colonize Mars at 500K per Pioneer | How Big is Your Vision?

Amazing article about Elon Musk’s plans for colonizing Mars! This guys think HUGE! Are you viewing the world like Musk? I hope so. From Rob Coppinger of Space.com via Yahoo News:

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday (Nov. 16). Musk was there to talk about his business plans, and to receive the Society’s gold medal for his contribution to the commercialization of space.

Mars pioneers

Accompanying the founders of the new Mars colony would be large amounts of equipment, including machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice.

The Red Planet pioneers would also take construction materials to build transparent domes, which when pressurized with Mars’ atmospheric CO2 could grow Earth crops in Martian soil. As the Mars colony became more self sufficient, the big rocket would start to transport more people and fewer supplies and equipment. [Future Visions of Human Spaceflight]

Musk’s architecture for this human Mars exploration effort does not employ cyclers, reusable spacecraft that would travel back and forth constantly between the Red Planet and Earth — at least not at first

“Probably not a Mars cycler; the thing with the cyclers is, you need a lot of them,” Musk told SPACE.com. “You have to have propellant to keep things aligned as [Mars and Earth’s] orbits aren’t [always] in the same plane. In the beginning you won’t have cyclers.”

Musk also ruled out SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which the company is developing to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit, as the spacecraft that would land colonists on the Red Planet. When asked by SPACE.com what vehicle would be used, he said, “I think you just land the entire thing.”

Asked if the “entire thing” is the huge new reusable rocket — which is rumored to bear the acronymic name MCT, short for Mass Cargo Transport or Mars Colony Transport — Musk said, “Maybe.”

Musk has been thinking about what his colonist-carrying spacecraft would need, whatever it ends up being. He reckons the oxygen concentration inside should be 30 to 40 percent, and he envisions using the spacecraft’s liquid water store as a barrier between the Mars pioneers and the sun.

A $500,000 ticket

Musk’s $500,000 ticket price for a Mars trip was derived from what he thinks is affordable.

“The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip,” he said, comparing the purchase to buying a house in California. [Photos: The First Space Tourists]

He also estimated that of the eight billion humans that will be living on Earth by the time the colony is possible, perhaps one in 100,000 would be prepared to go. That equates to potentially 80,000 migrants.

WOW!! Please start thinking big….

Will This Change Life for Millions | $9 Cardboard Bike Supports 485lbs | #SOCENT

Pretty amazing example of the power of creativity in the world economy versus labor and capital.

An industrial designer, Izhar Gafni, has created a $9 bike made out of cardboard that can carry riders up to 485 pounds. This has the ability to affordable make transportation available to millions around the world.  Hopefully they can set up local production, sales, and service globally to support employment and provide opportunity globally. Very cool social innovation.

The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version), making it not only one of the most sustainable bikes you could imagine, but amongst the cheapest, depending on the markup.

 

via This $9 Cardboard Bike Can Support Riders Up To 485lbs | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.

UMD Student Entrepreneur Mike & Cookies on Kickstarter #crowdfunding

Last year I was fortunate to meet and interview David Botwick-Ries, a University of MD student that launched a cookie business while on campus in College Park. David continues to grow his business, Mike and Cookies and has turned to Kickstarter to raise money for his firm. David is going to use the funds to buy a delivery truck to improve the operational efficiency of his firm. From Mike and Cookies Kickstarter update #3 page.

For us at Mike & Cookies, we want to be the cookie to remind the world to stop – slow down – and enjoy themselves. We want to be the cookie to enable the rediscovery of your childlike joy and the ability to share that amazing joy with others. We want to be the cookie to put a smile on your face, and more importantly, share that smile with everyone: friends, family, strangers alike.

We want to be the cookie to celebrate the everyday. And by this focus on today and only today, we see a world where people are filled with joy, love, compassion, and friendliness.

That is our mission. Join us.

Delivery Van for Mike & Cookies! by David Botwick-Ries — Kickstarter.

7 New Educational Startups | TechCrunch

Interesting piece at Tech Crunch by Wayne Sutton on 7 new educational startups. Some cool companies in here no matter the founders’ backgrounds. From Sutton at TechCrunch:

So where are all these startups hiding you ask? Well here are seven up-and-coming educational startups founded by minorities that I believe will have an significant impact in the educational space – not just for minorities but for anyone looking to learn online, current students and teachers alike.

1. UniversityNow

The mission of UniversityNow is to help ensure that affordable, high quality post-secondary education is available to people everywhere. To accomplish this, UniversityNow is building a network of the most affordable and accessible accredited universities in the world, starting with the launch of New Charter University.

Gene Wade, Co-Founder

2. Houlton Institute

Houlton packages courses into credentialed and non-credentialed programs targeting adult learners. By revenue sharing with partnering institutions, partners are able to monetize their expertise. Houlton creates one-of-a-kind online programs from its unique and exclusive partner network, which are disseminated via Houlton’s scalable, personalized, web-based learning platform.

Dennis Robinson and Dan Merritts, Co-Founders

3. Demo Lesson

Demo Lesson is a revolutionary online hiring platform that gives teachers the power to market themselves.

Mandela Schumacher Hodge and Brian Martinez, Co-Founders

4. Qeyno Labs

Qeyno Labs works with local partners and schools to bring technology-enabled career discovery into under-served classrooms using game-like rewards and mentorship from successful professionals.

Kalimah Priforce, Co-Founder

5. StockOfU

StockOfU allows individuals and businesses to buy “shares” of college students in order to help subsidize a student’s education costs.

Ty McDuffie, Founder

via 7 New Educational Startups Founded By Minorities in Tech | TechCrunch.

Vintage T-Shirt Entrepreneur | Ohio University

Great story of Homage, a vintage inspired t-shirt firm, and its student founder Ryan Vesler. Check out some of the amazing retro shirts on their site. From Business News Daily:

Vesler’s business career started when he was a student at Ohio University. He would visit thrift stores, buy the interesting vintage items of clothing he found there, and resell them on eBay.

“I did that for a couple years through college for extra money,” said Vesler. “It was a very valuable experience because I gained an appreciation for vintage. I would look at all these pieces that were one of a kind. I started to pay attention to their fabric, wash and graphics and I really started to gain a fondness and appreciation for an original piece.”

Vesler soon outgrew his eBay enterprise and looked to create his own pieces. In 2007 Vesler started Homage with the money he had received from a few credit cards as well as from selling clothes online.

“With credit cards, you can really extend your credit,” said Vesler. “If you get good terms from some vendors that you work with, you can really buy yourself a good 60 days to go out and try to make stuff happen.”

Vesler was able to do quite a bit in that time, despite entering a crowded business field with lots of competition. Vesler, a lifelong fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, applied for a license to produce shirts for Ohio State University and got it.

“That is one of the more difficult collegiate licenses to obtain,” said Vesler, “and when we got that, people started to see us differently. It really legitimized us.”

The Ohio State license proved to be just the beginning; Homage designs are now also featured in TD Banknorth Garden (the former Boston Garden) as well as retail stores including Urban Outfitters, Zumiez, Lids, and Japan’s United Arrows. Homage has become a favorite of celebrities including Chris Rock, Will Smith, David Arquette, Jimmy Kimmel and NBA player Russell Westbrook.

More recently, Homage’s shirts have been featured in an advertising campaign with fast food chain Wendy’s. Homage re-created T-shirts from the company’s legendary “Where’s The Beef?” campaign.

via T-Shirt Entrepreneur Gets Nostalgic with American-Made Goods | BusinessNewsDaily.com.

2012 Wharton Venture Award Winners | Entrepreneurship Programs

Thomas Baldwin at the Wharton Journal has brief interviews with the 5 recipients of the Wharton Venture Award.

After a highly competitive selection process, five student-led ventures were selected to receive the 2012 Wharton Venture Award (WVA). The WVA Program provides selected student entrepreneurs with $10,000 in funding to pursue the development of their ventures during the summer between their first and second years. WVA is one of several high-impact programs sponsored by Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (WEP) as part of its ongoing mission to foster entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the Wharton community.

1Docway (Samir Malik WG ‘13)

What: 1DocWay is an online doctor’s office. We connect hospitals with underserved patient populations, through our lightweight technology and implementation service. With 1DocWay, rural, elderly, disabled, and busy patients can schedule appointments online and see their doctor through our secure video chat platform. In doing so, we help hospitals expand their reach of services into underserved areas, building hospitals’ referral base; we work with underserved care facilities to increase access to specialist physicians and improve community health/wellness; and we help physicians improve scheduling flexibility and revenue by expanding their patient pool.

Inspiration: I had always been a start-up kind of guy. I had experience with a few prior startups and when I saw an opportunity to innovate in healthcare, from my perch as a healthcare consultant, I dove right in. Healthcare is a huge space in need of disruption.

Wharton: The HCM program has been a fantastic resource in that I have been able to connect to numerous brilliant colleagues who bring a wide range of perspectives on the healthcare space. My business has got many holes shot through it because of peers in HCM and that has made it stronger and more robust.

Continue reading

Foursquare Copy Cat to $1 Billion Photo Empire | Startups Iterate (Pivot) | Inc.

More interesting background on Instagram. Includes pivots, university ecosystems, and the idea of focus in the early days of a startup. Wow does location matter! From Eric Markowitz at Inc.:

Systrom’s first hire and eventual co-founder was Mike Krieger, a Brazilian-born 25-year-old engineer who worked at Meebo at the time. The pair had met at Stanford’s Mayfield Fellows program, a nine-month work-study program at Stanford designed to educate eager young students in running technology companies. Kim-Mai Cutler, writing for TechCrunch, describes Krieger as one of the “sweetest, most self-effacing engineers and user-experience designers.”

“Once he joined, we took a step back and looked at the product as it stood,” Systrom reflected on Quora. “We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing.”

But Systrom and Krieger were unhappy with Burbn.

It was “cluttered” and “overrun with features,” Systrom noted on Quora, adding that the photo feature was by far the most popular. So in August, the founders made an incredibly risky, but perhaps prophetic, decision: They’d scrap Burbn almost entirely in order to build an entirely new app from the ground up.

“It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities,” Systrom continued.

Read the entire article, its interesting and highlights many interesting concepts about new ventures, apps, silicon valley, etc.. (BTW, the photo below, apparently was from when the instagram founders were renting a desk at a coworking space for $500 a month)

via How Instagram Grew From Foursquare Knock-Off to $1 Billion Empire | Inc.com.

Sht Entrepreneurs Say – YouTube

@Bindlebags just posted this on the StartUp Mason Facebook page.

Sht Entrepreneurs Say – YouTube.

A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups | Chronicle of Higher Education | #Edtech #hackedu

Nick DeSantis of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about the incredible surge in investing in education technology start-ups. While people in the article claim ‘this time is different, I am not so sure. (I was at the University of Chicago when a bunch distinguished professors created UNext.com during the late 1990s — BIG BUST just like the startup I joined in 1999). From DeSantis:

Investments in education-technology companies nationwide tripled in the last decade, shooting up to $429-million in 2011 from $146-million in 2002, according to the Na­tional Venture Capital Association. The boom really took off in 2009, when venture capitalists pushed $150-million more into education-technology firms than they did in the previous year, even as the economy sank into recession.

“The investing community believes that the Internet is hitting edu­cation, that education is having its Internet moment,” said Jose Ferreira, founder of the interactive-learning company Knewton. Last year Mr. Ferreira’s company scored a $33-million investment of its own in one of the biggest deals of the year.

The scramble to make bets on a tech-infused college revolution has led to so many new companies that even Mr. Ferreira can’t keep track.

Udacity, Udemy, and University­Now all have plans to revolutionize online learning. There’s the Coursebook, a young online-learning start-up. And Coursekit, a nascent challenger to Blackboard in the market for learning-management software. And Courseload, the Indiana-based digital-textbook enterprise. And CourseRank, the class-sorting outfit acquired by the textbook vendor Chegg two years ago.

This isn’t the first ed-tech boom to crowd the market with companies whose names sound alike. A similar wave hit in the late 90s, during the larger dot-com frenzy. But today’s investors believe this round of growth is different. Michael Moe, co-founder of the investment-advisory firm GSV Asset Management, said the first ed-tech wave had been based mostly on euphoria that anything digital would work.

“There were just a bunch of things that were, candidly, thrown against the wall,” he said of the 90s start-ups. Some companies pitched ideas that had no sustainable business model. Others, Mr. Moe added, were years ahead of their time. (Courseload, the digital-textbook start-up revived in 2009, was born in 2000, but its leaders say tools weren’t available to support it until more recently.) When the dot-com bubble burst, investors fled the market.

The piece highlights that students are perfectly positioned to play a role in the revolution in higher education (campus as market). A number of students and recent grads I work with through Startup Mason on working in the higher education space:

Mr. Staton said his fellow entrepreneurs had also flocked to education because they know its chal­lenges better than any other industry.

“When you ask a 19-year-old what problem in the world they want to solve, it’s highly likely that the problems that they’re most familiar with are problems from their own education,” Mr. Staton said. By the time they graduate, he added, many of those students are “looking two opportunities in the face: a substandard job market, or creating their own company and trying to be Mark Zuckerberg.”

And entrepreneurs like to solve problems that they care about, Mr. Staton said: “There are a lot of people that are passionate about this, that know it, that want to do something about it.”

While the piece discusses the amazing activity that has occurred in recent years (startups and funding) it says little about value created for students, professors, and universities and nothing about the profitability of any of the firms that are mentioned. This is a clear sign of a bubble in education technology.

via A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.