Student Spotlight: Ezkie Fills the International Housing Void

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Venturing out to study, intern or work abroad is something OCM highly recommends – not only is it an incredible way to broaden your horizons and immerse yourself into another culture, but it also looks great on your resume. However, we are aware of the challenges that living abroad can present, like finding affordable and safe housing. For a long time, you weren’t left with many options or resources to find the perfect place abroad. Outside of some potentially sketchy Craigslist posts or word of mouth, it’s hard to safely secure housing without being in the country first!

Ezkie Changes the Way Students Travel, Live and Connect Abroad

Our Student Spotlight for June is Ezkie, a company that fills this international housing void by matching students worldwide with apartments. Ezkie (read: “easy key”) was started by UCLA student Anais Tadlaoui, who personally and repeatedly experienced the struggle of finding housing, having lived in seven different cities.

Ezkie aims to foster cultural, social, and intellectual relationships across the globe by changing the way university students and young professionals travel, live and connect abroad. Ezkie seeks to change the housing game and give all young adults the chance to pursue international experiences by building a curated network of universities where students can let their place to each other.

 

Recognizing a Need in the Market for Safe, Affordable Housing for Students

Anais shared a few anecdotes with us about the struggles she personally faced when moving both domestically and internationally. Having been scammed in New York, homeless in Rio de Janeiro and having to pay an exorbitant price up front to an agency in London, Anais told us, “I figured I either had a housing spell cast on me or there was a much bigger problem out there.” She found that regardless of the platform or method she used to find housing – like traditional landlords and agencies, Airbnb and Craigslist – they all ultimately failed to meet her housing needs.

Having suspected this need in the market for safe, affordable and convenient housing for students, Anais took to her campus to survey others. After interviewing about 100 other students, she found that she wasn’t the only one with apartment horror stories. “I realized how critical the problem was, how big the market was, and the lack of adequate solutions” Anais explained. “And this problem is only going to get worse as more students are seeking out international education and global experiences. So, I decided to put an end to this housing frenzy and make it easy, safe, and convenient to relocate to a new city for a few months.”

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Ezkie Gains Traction and Recognition

Anais and her team’s successful efforts to fill the void of safe, affordable international housing have not fallen on deaf ears either. In April of this year, Ezkie was awarded a $10K Courageous Women Entrepreneur Prize from The Rice University Business Plan Competition. Ezkie’s success has also gained its fair share of rightfully earned publicity, with news sources such as Forbes, TechCrunch and Los Angeles Times commending the Ezkie team on their ingenuity and success.

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Ezkie Founder Anais Tadlaoui’s Advice on Starting a Business in College

When asked what advice she had for students that hope to start a business, Anais urged that the best time to start is when you’re still in school! “That’s the easiest and best way to find your co-founding team and get access to so many free resources schools offer to foster entrepreneurship on their campuses. It will be so much harder to start a company, when you’re ‘alone in the real world’ with no support system backing you up.” She also shared an incredible list of college resources and benefits for students looking to get their ideas off of the ground:

  • Prize money from startup competitions only available to current students
  • Exposure to thousands of students and potential customers via the school’s newspaper, announcements before class, student organizations and Greek life partnerships
  • Accelerator programs and free office space on campus with free consulting
  • Mentors such as professors, tutors and grad students

Through these resources (among many others), Anais urges that colleges can be a great incubator for your next big idea.

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As far as what the future holds for Ezkie, Anais explains that they aim to expand internationally. “We are striving to help students with more than just housing. In the future, we plan on offering additional concierge service to help them make the most out of their new city.”

To learn more about Ezkie or find your next home away from home, visit www.ezkie.com.

Student Spotlight: Campus Insights

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Campus Insights

Campus Insights Exec Team
(L to R, Stephen Soward, Riley Soward, and Ameet Kallarackal, Head of UX Strategy & Research)

Campus Insights Team takes Fresh Approach to College Student Market Research

In college, we often forget that we have a voice, and a strong one at that. Through campus advocacy groups fighting for a better world, to surveys for your next spring concert performer, students have a say in many things while they’re busy studying for their careers. It’s no surprise then that companies have been making a strong play for the college dollar. Our Student Spotlight feature this month focuses on a student-run company working to bridge the gap between businesses and the college demographic. Read on to learn more about the team at Campus Insights.

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Irene Kim, UX Researcher for Campus Insights

While many websites and phone applications do target college students, they tend to do so without the right feedback to fine-tune their message and services. Riley and Stephen Soward, co-founders of Campus Insights, saw an opportunity to turn their love of providing insightful, constructive feedback for their cousin’s Facebook games and for local startups into a viable business venture. After more than a year and a half of work, Campus Insights has grown into a healthy company comprised of students and alumni from Boston College & University of Michigan.

Stephen Soward, co-founder and COO, believes that companies can’t employ a one-size marketing strategy to college kids, and that’s where the company’s expertise comes into play. “Each company requires a different college marketing strategy,” he says. Using tactics such as ambassador campaigns, sponsoring Greek social events, and word-of-mouth, Campus Insights makes sure the student voice is heard loud and clear.

Campus Insights leverages their position as “millennials” by conducting candid user interviews, multi-week retention studies, surveys, among other methods. The team then formulates actionable suggestions these companies can use to further their strategies, from mere tweaks to entirely new features. One of the biggest challenges for the team, however, is ensuring that they’re not seen as just ‘too young’.

Irene Kim serves as the team’s UX Researcher, and expresses the company’s determination for further success regardless of skill. “We have found it valuable to talk with marketing research and UI/UX testing experts at companies like Amazon and Dropbox to gain insights into how establish teams conduct their research and what their pain-points are. These conversations have helped us improve our processes, differentiate ourselves from competitors, and launch new product offerings to best support our clients,” she says.

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Kelsey Bishop, Sales Development Manager for Campus Insights

Another big challenge for the team is distance, as Kim studies at the University of Michigan, while other team members are spread out between Massachusetts and California. With the team split between several locales, this allows for varied feedback, but also calls for flexibility. Tools such as Hangouts, Asana, and the messaging service Slack help the team stay informed, while empty classrooms and WeWork spaces serve as their offices when they all reunite.

When the team isn’t working on the business, they enjoy a range of activities, including photography, ultimate Frisbee, discovering new music, abstract painting, and boxing. The majority of the team also give back, whether it be on campus or within the community as a whole.

Since 2014, CEO Riley Soward and the CI team have been working toward providing companies with ways to reach a target market, and the company has high ambitions for developing its customer base. By helping international companies learn more about the US market and its interests, Campus Insights continues to grow and develop into a full-service market research firm.

“We have high ambitions for the future of the company… Research is our first step,” he states. As for what’s ahead for the team, the vision for the road ahead is clear. “Anything could happen over the next two years before graduation. Right now we’re just focusing on growing our number of clients and building a sustainable, scalable company.”

If you would like to learn more about Campus Insights, please visit www.campus-insights.com

Student Spotlight: Taylor Landrum Delivers Convenient Dog Care with Fur Sure

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This month’s Student Spotlight focuses on a student/ local business owner in Northern Kentucky who wanted to share his love for canines through taking care of them and making them look their best. Read on to find out more about Taylor Landrum and his dog grooming business – Fur Sure Dog Care, LLC.

 

Fur Sure Dog Care Logo

Taylor first came up with the idea for his business idea while taking care of his Sheltie, Rudy. He first met Rudy while stationed with the US Air Force in Omaha, NE. “I was nearing the end of my enlistment, and I wanted to get a dog that I could train and bring home with me to be my sidekick in this new life.” he says. Just a short time later, thanks to his experience with Rudy and other dogs his friends and family owned, he soon realized there was a need in the market, and Fur Sure was born.

The main unique selling point of Fur Sure is its focus on comfort for the dog and their owner. He offers grooming and walking services, all done in-house, so that both the owner and the pup feel most comfortable. “For most people, dogs become your children,” Landrum says. Noting that they teach responsibility, he also states that the work put into maintaining a dog’s well-being is a reflection on the owner more so than that of the dog’s themselves. “Your dog reflects your efforts, and when they’re happy, so are you.”

 

Taylor & Rudy

 

Fur Sure takes care of many types of dogs. These include small breeds like mini Doberman pinschers and Maltipoos, to bigger dogs who are still pups at heart, like playful Labradors, all of which are showcased to celebrate the many new friends he’s made thank to his services. From simple nail trims and brushing, to packages that include both grooming and walking, he offers a change from most grooming salons, where dogs are unaware of their surroundings and aren’t familiar with the people around them. This formula has proven to be a winning solution to a pain point for many pet owners.

In addition to making his clients feel their best, Landrum’s services continue to be lauded thanks to his deep care for dogs. Many owners commend him on his ability to engage with their dogs, giving them equal parts attention and affection in the effort to reassure that he’s there to make them feel their absolute best.

Of course, the challenges of having one’s own business are evident, especially considering the overall workload. Landrum is a full-time student of entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University, holds a part-time job at a local hospital, and operates Fur Sure. Even with his demanding schedule, he makes sure to take time to decompress from the pressures of donning many hats. “The biggest challenge of starting my business was learning how to balance my life.” He continues, “The best way for me to do so was to take it one day at a time.”

By keeping his priorities in order and in check, as well as staying organized with his trusty mobile calendar, Taylor makes sure to find free time to unwind and relax. In his spare time, he enjoys experimenting with wing sauce recipes, and cheers on the Bengals football team and the Louisville Cardinals basketball team. In Rudy’s spare time, he loves to run in big open areas, and is a huge fan of the canine classic “Fetch”.

 

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After he’s finished with his studies, Taylor is interested in consulting for startups and mid-level companies, as well as general business consulting to identify and improve operations for firms. He attributes his way of thinking differently to his studies at NKU along with his work with Fur Sure.

“Most programs teach you how to follow a process, [while] entrepreneurship teaches you how to create a process. It is a different way of thinking, and once you start thinking like an entrepreneur there is no way to turn it off.”

Although Taylor wants to keep the business local for the time being, he’s open to expansion outside of the Northern Kentucky area, an area that takes pride in local businesses and always has something fun happening.

 

Logo Source: Fur Sure Dog Care

FEBRUARY STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Maya Rafie & Zac DelVecchio Help Students Blaze Their Own Career Path with Bistara

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Words like “freelancing” & “entrepreneur” don’t easily attract the average college student. Ask around most campuses, and chances are students have their dream employer in mind already. However, with the ever-changing job landscape, it’s not surprising to see some name themselves as their own boss. For our February Student Spotlight, Maya Rafie & Zac DelVecchio tell us about how bistara helps budding moguls take control of their futures.

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Student Spotlight: Kevin Ye Tacks Easier Task Management At The Top Of His List

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“Teamwork” – it’s a simple word, yet, this concept isn’t always achievable. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, attempting to synchronize with people for simple things such as what to get at the supermarket gets awkward at times thanks to shifting schedules and priorities. Luckily, the subject of this month’s Student Spotlight takes this pain point for most people, and improves upon it for the benefit of collaborative teams. Keep reading to learn about Kevin Ye and his team task management & communication application, Tack.

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Student Spotlight: Anish Aggarwal Believes In Tutoring for All Students

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As a child, how often did you or someone you know utilize a tutoring service? For some of us, tutoring was available at any moment during our lives. But for a majority of the country, tutoring is considered a luxury that some families simply cannot afford.

 

After failing Calculus his junior year of high school, Anish Aggarwal seeked help from a retired teacher for $80 an hour. This was a steep price tag for the junior, and after a few lessons, he felt as if this service was overpriced and searched for alternatives. “I ended up asking a friend in the same class for help. By paying him $15/hr not only did I get an A in the class but I also realized how efficient peer-to-peer teaching was.” It was out of this experience, the idea for Top Tier Learning was born.

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Top Tier learning provides affordable academic resources to communities nationwide. Instead of high-priced, name brand tutors, they employ high school seniors that encompass the intelligence and leadership qualities. These personality traits are essential to spreading the “Top Tier Advantage.”

The University of Texas at Austin student spends most of his time at the McCombs School of Business, where the 18-year-old majors in business finance. In addition to being the founder of Top Tier Learning, Aggarwal enjoys playing basketball with friends, dabbling in poker matches and being a dedicated fan of baseball and football teams.

Not only has the business helped boost Aggarwal’s resume and experience, he also reaps the rewards of helping students who might not have found another way to learn. “I have gotten phone calls from parents incredibly happy that their son/daughter was able to pass a class because of Top Tier Learning. They said that without our affordable lessons, they would not be able to afford help at all.”

Top Tier Learning currently has six branches in three different states. With multiple partnerships from community institutions such as the YMCA, Aggarwal’s company has created a network of support. They’ve begun the “franchise” stage of the company, but are in the early developments. Their ultimate goal is to have hundreds of branches to serve communities all across America and “brick and mortar” locations.

What kind of tutors can be found at Top Tier Learning?

“Our tutors are high school seniors that you would want your own children to be tutored by (role models and leaders in their community who genuinely care about the students they are teaching). These seniors usually have excellent grades and incredible leadership experience, in addition to great referrals. They are motivated to tutor at TTL because we pay higher compared to competitors and offer a “set your own hours” work schedule.”

How about the students?

“All types of students use Top Tier Learning, from 6 years old to 18 year olds. Their subject areas range all across the board from Sociology to Honors English to 3rd Grade Math. Some students wish to “catch up,” others wish to ensure their current academic status, and others wish to move to a higher level (such as an honors program).”

 

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How do you match tutors with their students?

“We have a very diverse staff, so we are always able to address a student’s needs. Our staff consists of both genders with specialists in special needs, elementary school, middle school, test taking, AP classes, etc. We usually pair the gender of a student with that of his/her tutor to ensure efficiency.”

Coordinating a company of this size was surely going to impact Aggarwal’s time management skills. Top Tier Learning has assisted him in managing his priorities better, but has inevitably taken away time from school work and other commitments. “It has really helped me gain invaluable “hands on” experience that has helped me in my business classes.”

While working with students and their parents, Aggarwal found the biggest hurdle to overcome when beginning the company was trust. Parents are more often reluctant to trust their children in the hands of anyone else – let alone high school students. “I was able to gain trust in 3 ways: registering the company with the state, community partnerships with the YMCA and nonprofits, and scaling it to multiple branches.”

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What’s your philosophy on being a good leader and what advice can you give other college students about fulfilling their dreams?

“I’ve always believed that leading by example is important. Ambitious goal planning and fulfilling your team’s potential are necessary to success. Even when others doubt you, believe in yourself! You have to be your biggest advocate. Don’t launch your product until you’re sure it is your very best work- doing so otherwise may have terrible effects. Instead of trying to think of an innovation in a line where you have no expertise, think of problems in your own life and original solutions that affect many people.”

Student Spotlight: English and Politics Major Brayton Deprey Finds a Home in Entrepreneurship

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College students are expected to do it all – classes, internships, part-time jobs, and homework. On top of these duties, cleaning around their living space or making a trip to the department store for necessities can slip through the cracks of a busy schedule. Brayton Deprey, an English and Politics double major at Drake University, knows the struggle all too well. Through the trials and tribulations of a hectic lifestyle, the idea for Settled In was born.

IMG_4668“The concept came – partially – from recognizing that need in my own life. After working an eight hour day, night class, and then homework, I hate having to do chores around my apartment or go grocery shopping; and I figured other people probably feel the same way, so that’s what Settled In does.”

The idea became funded through one of Drake University’s entrepreneur programs. A flyer caught Deprey’s eye advertising Lorentzen Student Hatchery. The Entrepreneurship Center in the College of Business and Public Administration (CBPA) gives grant money to student-funded businesses to help them get started while balancing schoolwork. “It’s a lot like ‘Shark Tank’ where you pitch your idea to a group of entrepreneurs and they decide to invest in you, or not… I’m not in the Business school, or have even taken a business class – but I thought it was intriguing.”

Since that initial pitch, Settled In has grown significantly. As a business model that mimics having a personal concierge service, Deprey and her partner, Alexi Delathouder learned how to respond to the market and their customers. They give credit to the business school program in helping them along on their journey.

The Challenges of a New Business

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With a new business comes a number of challenges for any young entrepreneur. After the excitement of winning grant money and filing for an LLC, even the smallest of tasks became a challenge for the Settled In team. “We didn’t know how to build a website, how to find customers, we didn’t even really have a solid idea yet. The first month or two was just a lot of thinking about ‘what is Settled In?’” Through the help of mentors, support from friends and family, and assistance from the Hatchery, the partners carried on through the launch of Settled In.

While launching Settled In during the summer, Deprey had time on her side. By not having to attend class, she was able to dedicate her energy into working on the business, networking, and recruiting clients to help it flourish. As school began this past semester, she discovered running the business while maintaining good grades was a balancing act. “In all honesty, though, it just forces me to prioritize my time a lot better.  I’ve gotten a lot more organized, and I never go anywhere without my planner.”

The Future of Settled In

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Expansion is contingent upon the ultimate success of Settled In by the time Deprey graduates from college (which will be this December). Her partner is from Texas, and she is from Wisconsin, they both plan to take Settled In home with them. “If the Des Moines Settled In becomes plausible, we’d like to hire someone to run it, while we each move home and start it in our home cities. Eventually we envision having different locations all over, maybe franchises – that would be amazing!”

Deprey’s future is still being written. If there is anything she learned from the Settled In experience so far, it is to take all opportunities in college and capitalize on them.

“You never know where something will take you. I never would have realized how much I love the entrepreneurship community in Des Moines, or met some of the most influential people of my life if I hadn’t started Settled In.”

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Do you know an amazing student who deserves to be in the “spotlight” and shown off?! Email kcarpenter@ocm.com with the information to be featured in next month’s Student Spotlight!

Student Spotlight: Socially Conscious Activism Platform by Driven Student

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We love to share our experiences with each other – whether it’s photos on Instagram, status updates on Twitter, or major news on Facebook, these platforms have given college students a personal platform to amplify their voices. A group of students at the University of Pittsburgh seeks to defeat the superficial stereotype of these sharing platforms while encouraging global interaction. OCM got the opportunity to meet Emeka Ukaga, a 20-year-old U of Pitt student who is the COO of the social-activism platform, Glimpse.

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The Civil Engineering and Architectural studies major tells us their platform strives “to modernize the methods used to advocate for causes and bring about [potential] change in the world.” By revolutionizing the way people interact with their social media platform, deeper connections can be made with the real world and the news going on at that moment. “Our app provides the tools and framework to do just that…rehumanize the internet.”

When did you realize you wanted to create Glimpse? Did a particular moment inspire you?

“The idea was birthed by my close friend Ethan back in December 2013. He had the idea of a 360-panoramic video platform that would allow users to see all and experience all that their friends could see. As we talked more and built on the idea, it started to shift more from truly experiencing something with someone to truly bonding over social media with others as opposed to trading true interaction for superficial brief exchanges. We’ve continued to innovate on our original idea to get to where we are now.”

What is your ultimate goal for Glimpse? Give us your dream scenario.

“I would one day like to see a platform where I could hop on and get to see what others are doing all over the world. I could check out a festival in Indonesia, watch a 2-minute short summary of the elections in India, see what my friend in Korea has been up to, and then get informed on a new cause that has been gaining momentum in the last week. Beyond just that, I want to be able to have an impact in those events and I want to be able to share in the experiences beyond just liking a post or sharing a video…”

With any ambitious project comes a number of challenges and setbacks (even for the most prepared professionals)! The Glimpse team saw competition arising in the form of other companies, but differentiated themselves from the pack by setting their goals. Raising funds to continue the production of the site is a challenge that Ukaga sees, but has the utmost confidence that it will not be an issue.

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Most student entrepreneurs find the balance between school, personal life, and the company a point of concern. Glimpse submitted their ideas to the Big Idea Competition on their campus for additional funds this past spring. “I had a pretty rough spring semester due to pushing us through the Big Idea Competition here at our campus that we eventually won funds from,” Ukaga goes on to explain. Aside from time management, he found running a company and learning in the classroom has gone hand-in-hand to make the young student a professional. “I have learned while working as COO [that] managing tasks, and staying up to date on global events in order to understand future customers/users is important. I have really been able to understand many things in my classes and seminars as a result.”

What advice would you give other college students who wish to make a difference?

“For those that want to help out while still in school, I would suggest taking a hard look at your local surrounding community, Isolating a key problem that is affecting people, and then take measurable steps to help provide a solution to that. Many people think making a difference takes a lot of planning and effort but it could be as simple as tutoring on Fridays or helping clean up the surrounding community.”

Ukaga has wisdom that exceeds expectations for his age. This college student is full of inspiring words and advice for individuals looking to improve their world. By taking an active part in their education outside the classroom, and using personal skills to help communities, any ambitious student can end up like Ukaga. With his future looking bright, we expect great things!

“One thing that is great about our generation that I feel separates us from our parents is the fact that many of us want to do more than make be successful making money. A lot of us are driven towards having a positive impact on the world as well.”

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Do you know an amazing student who deserves to be in the “spotlight” and shown off?! Email kcarpenter@ocm.com with the information to be featured in next month’s Student Spotlight!

Student Spotlight: Recent Princeton Grad Launches a Defining Social App

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Princeton University is no stranger to witnessing their Ivy League student body excel in academics and become leaders within the community. With an acceptance rate of just 7.4%, the striking New Jersey college campus sits in a suburban setting. It is here where the next great social media app, Friendsy, was born. Catering specifically to the college audience, Friendsy is a social network app where students can anonymously connect and chat with each other, for friendly or romantic purposes. The idea for the app came as a result of how the co-founders met.

Vaidhy Murti

Vaidhy Murti

 

An avid New York Yankees baseball fan, Vaidhy Murti was on the hunt for other liked-minded students when he entered the Frist Campus Center a few weeks into his freshman year. “As it turns out, the entire lounge was totally empty, except for one kid sitting front and center. I went and sat down next to him, and we immediately struck up conversation,” Murti recalls how he met his would-be company co-founder, Mike Pinsky.

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Vaidhy Murti and Matt Pinsky

Murti and Pinsky became fast friends, eventually rooming together and coming up with the idea of Friendsy. While their friendship was organic, “we realized that things usually don’t turn out this way, especially on college campuses. Too often, there are many people you would like to get to know better at college, but it’s hard to branch out of your social circle and take the initiative.” Murti saw firsthand how difficult it was to make new friends after the initial excitement of freshman year has died down. Friendsy’s mission was simple, they wanted a safe, fun, risk-free way to branch out of a social circle and meet new people.

The Friendsy Team

The Friendsy Team

Friendsy launched their initial prototype in May 2013 for only Princeton University, quickly registering over 1,000 users in a week. Since then, they have over 85,000 users across every 4-year undergraduate university in America. The app is supported on iOS and Android devices. The app pulls inspiration from the most popular social networking sites used today. For each profile on Friendsy, the user can indicate whether they want to be friends with or go on a date with that person. The individual would then get an anonymous message saying someone is interested in them. For safety precautions, your identity would only be revealed if each indicated the same level of interest.

We dug deeper with Murti about his greatest challenges, goals, and visions for the future.

Why did you decide on the college demographic for your app?

“We’re a team of college students (and now some recent graduates) working to create an app that we ourselves want to use, so I definitely think it starts there. Besides that, there are no apps that put the college social scene online in one place. Facebook used to do that when it was first created, but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant as parents and grandparents flood the news feed. With many different apps out there targeting college students, Friendsy is unique in that we require every one of our users to sign up with a valid .edu e-mail address. This gives us a huge competitive advantage – every single one of our users is a real-life verified college student, and that’s a powerful promise. College students have always been interested in exclusivity – and Friendsy provides them with exactly that, in a curated, safe, positive environment.”

What has been your greatest challenge with Friendsy so far?

“It has been very challenging to build production-ready apps and a website for our ever-growing user base while being enrolled as full-time students at Princeton, and it has been challenging to market our brand and build a loyal user base without any sort of serious funding.”

What is your plan for after college?

“Working on Friendsy full-time! We’re currently a team of 15 people (friendsyapp.com/team), and the five of us who just graduated have all moved into NYC to pursue our passion with 100% commitment. It’s truly a dream come true for us, and we’re super excited to spread Friendsy like wildfire this fall!”

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Student Spotlight: San Diego Student Inspires Others to Be a “Yes Man”

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The University of San Diego sits in a picturesque location on the southernmost tip of the sunny state of California. Boasting beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and a vibrant community, San Diego seems like the perfect place for college students to call home. While some USD students might find this environment indicative of relaxation, Nathan Resnick found entrepreneurial inspiration in his San Diego surroundings at the age of 21.

Meet Nathan Resnick

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A rising senior at USD, Resnick majors in finance, though the company he started does more than just crunch numbers. In 2014, Yes Man, a lifestyle brand, began to take shape. The company creates premium watches and sunglasses “that empower people to do more with their lives.” With his vision for the brand in mind, Resnick launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring his idea to fruition.

The story begins after a summer internship two years ago landed Resnick in the 9-to-5 rut. Resnick knew he had a different calling in life. “My life felt constrained by my 9-5 position, and entrepreneurship was my outlet,” Resnick told us. Because of this, he was inspired to create a brand that focused on the importance of the use of time; how does one utilize the 24 hours in a day? As with all companies, there were bumps in the road during the initial research and launch of the company. With hindsight being 20/20, Resnick discussed what he would do differently if he could go back to when Yes Man first started. “I would optimize and analyze everything we can. When starting, we didn’t know much about digital marketing, yet now understand that there are an abundance of platforms and tools we can utilize to better understand what our customers want.”

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Success, however, was found in launching a Kickstarter campaign, a crowdfunding website featuring thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs looking for money to support the launch of their company and/or product. Launching in January 2014, the project was fully funding (and beyond) by February. To Resnick, the key to a popular campaign is to focus on the pre-launch strategy, as opposed to focusing after the campaign launch. “You should start building hype and a mailing list a few weeks before your launch so you can have a huge impact on your first day.”

If pre-launch strategy is key, we wanted to know how someone prepares for such an endeavor. “The first step is ensuring you can source the product you are preparing to sell,” he told us. Having more than a homemade prototype and being prepared with all the costs and budgets associated with bringing the product to life is key for staying organized. After you find out how the product will be made, marketing and branding follow suit. Resnick emphasizes launching connections with potential customers, “Start discussing your project with your friends and stem off of every network you are connected to.”

Introducing Azula – A First of its Kind Fabric Faced Watch

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Building upon the success of Yes Man watches and sunglasses, this hungry leader launched a new venture in late 2014. Azula will be the first ever fabric faced watch, a truly unique product because each fabric piece is hand sewn and made with authentic textiles from across the globe. In fact, funding for the project has already begun with a recent Kickstarter launch.

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“Respecting the wrist and the world” is the tagline for Azula watches. We asked Resnick why he chose such a philanthropic statement, and what it means to him and the Yes Man brand. “As a brand, Azula strives to do more than just sell watches. We support native communities by sourcing our products direct from the locals. Every watch purchased helps provide full time jobs to local artisans who design and make our fabrics.”

Learning to be a Leader

With so much going on, it is hard to remember that Nathan Resnick is also a full-time college student. Some students might find balancing coursework and running a company to be stressful, but Resnick takes advantage of how it intertwines with his education. “Overall being in school while starting a company has been a plus. I get to utilize my university’s network of students, professors, and advisors, while applying what I learn inside the classroom to my business and vice-versa.”

As a young business owner, Resnick has a strong philosophy on how a good leader operates a company. “One of the hardest parts for me as leader is learning to delegate, yet once you understand how to trust people you work with, everything works out better than before,” he told us. In addition, Resnick believes empowering people you work with is simple if you ensure their work has value. And of course, leading by example is a must in any setting if you really want to be getting something done.

“At Yes Man, our goal is to be a motivational tool for students and dream-chasers who strive to turn their ideas into realities. Whether it is a photography project or starting your own company, Yes Man is there for you, ensuring you know that everything starts by saying “yes.””

To stay up to date on all the latest Yes Man happenings, visit www.beayesman.com. Be sure to check out Resnick’s latest business venture at www.azulawatches.com.