GET OUT THERE: Using your free time to talk to customers

It’s summer, which means you are free from school, have time to hang out, and can get moving on your business. This time is particularly great for going out and talking with potential customers about your concept since more people are out and about. Engaging with potential customers is an involved and personal activity, so use this window where you have freedom to schedule time and put in that extra effort to reach out them.


The ability to introduce yourself and steal a few minutes of someone’s time is daunting but necessary. Approaching random person and asking them for an opinion on your concept can be awkward, but if they can provide you with actionable feedback, the exercise could be the most valuable thing you do. Here are some things to consider:

  • Realize that they are people, too. We interact with people every day, this time it’s just with someone you don’t have a previous connection to, and that’s okay.
  • There is always something to gain (more often than not). Meeting new people and talking to potential customers can provide insight, opinions from different background, and a new contact.
  • No harm, no fowl. Sometimes the conversation may get lead down a different path or you receive criticism. Still, these things are important to — but not let bring you down. if anything, you’ve improved your communication skills.


Now when going through this exercise, there are three types of people you need to be concerned about:

  1. Potential customers that do not yet know about your company (the vast majority of people)
  2. People that know about your company, but are not currently customers
  3. People that are already purchasing your product (if you are this far in the startup journey)

Consider these questions for each category. These will help you identify potential trends where you can make an immediate change to your concept:

  1. Why is this person unaware of my company? What are the best ways to reach them?
  2. Why are they not customers if I know I can help them and my product is better than what is currently available?
  3. Why do they continue to come back? What could make the product better?

Again, try not to get discouraged if the first couple people you approach ignore you, it will make the feedback you do get more valuable in the end, guaranteed.

A challenge to you: introduce yourself to five people you think could fit into your target customer profile and sell them on your concept and share your experience here. *

*This should be an exercise you are constantly practicing since things change so quickly. Having a pulse check on your customers will make the difference in being proactive with making decisions rather than reacting to an unexpected event.

12 Days of Zen

It’s that time of year again… THE HOLIDAYS.

Yep. Cue: family craziness, crowded shopping malls, and overbooked schedules. I’m not a scrooge by any means. I love Christmas. As an entrepreneur, this is really the only time of year I have to relax & refresh for a brand new year of kicking butt.

The problem? The holidays can get really stressful. It’s easy to get caught up in the mania, and, before you know it, it’s time to get back to work.

12 days of Zen is a mini-series with daily tips stay mindful this holiday. Don’t let the holiday season whiz by you in a hectic blur. Use this time to rejuvenate, celebrate, and be happy.


Day 1: Let go of expectations

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Things turn out the best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.~John Wooden

Drop your expectations of what you think this holiday season should be like. We’re bombarded with ads, movies, and social media that our perspective of what the holidays are actually like is tainted.

The truth is, the holidays are… messy. There’s a reason why this is the only time of year you see some extended family of yours.

It’s not always going to be perfect (or even enjoyable) the whole time, but if you can adjust your expectations, you can still be happy. How? Change your thoughts, adjust your perception, and decide that this holiday season is great.

 


Day 2: Stop obsessing over outcomes

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Let go or be dragged.- Zen Proverb

Entrepreneurs are obsessed with outcomes. Our discipline constantly keeps us in check. Right now, we’re more focused on outcomes than ever as we plan for the next 12 months.

Our passion for defining what success looks like and making a plan to get there carries over into our personal lives, too. This time of year, it’s hard to get our heads out of that mindset. Self-criticism can dominate your thought process & perspective.

Here’s the truth: Things won’t go as you planned. That’s okay. Your family might not get along the whole time. That’s okay. Instead of spending this entire holiday season trying to make things perfect, take time to enjoy the experience, no matter how chaotic it might be.

Let it be.


Day 3: Cut your family some slack.

If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own. -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

You know those dysfunctional family members of yours? It’s like they live in a completely different world (or universe, for that matter) than you.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to judge them, as if you’ve suddenly become an expert in family psychiatry. It’s just as easy for them to judge you, too. In fact, they probably think your family is dysfunctional & weird, too.

Instead of judging them, embrace your differences. Let things slide, avoid taking sides, and try to be a peacemaker. You’ll have more mental energy to put into what you can control, your happiness.


Day 4: Giving Back

No-one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank

As an entrepreneur, you’re in a constant battle to make it to the top. It can be hard not to always think about “what is in it for me?” when doing just about anything.

There is so much more to have in mind though, Others.

Think about the last time you were going through a difficult situation and how powerful it was to have someone offer you help. Putting people before profits leads to a life richer than you can ever imagine.

This holiday season remember how powerful it can be to give. This year I encourage you to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, donate to Toys-for-Tots, find a way to get involved and give back. Do it with the right intentions, of receiving nothing in return, and you will find a much-needed moment of peace.


Day 5: Enjoy Doing Nothing

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.- Socrates

There’s always a little part of me that feels guilty whenever I’m not being productive. I’ve found out, however, that always being busy can actually be counterproductive.  If you can never turn your brain off, you can never get some real rest.

Going through your mental to-do lists when you’re trying to get into a good movie is the opposite of relaxing.

Burn-out is real. The good news? It can be easily avoided. Take some time this season to shut that mind off. No family stress, no work, nothing. Take a walk and admire Christmas lights, make hot chocolate to sip by the fire, or curl up and watch your favorite holiday movie. Enjoy doing nothing, even if it’s for just 15 minutes a day.


Day 6: Realize It’s Okay to Say ‘No’

It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. – Steve Jobs

In the age of FOMO and not wanting to miss any opportunity that comes your way we have all become ‘yes’ people. Sometimes you just have to say ‘no’.

Instead of feeling like you have to go out of your way to make others experiences great, try to put yourself and your experience first. You don’t have to go to every holiday party, get together, or gift exchange you’re invited to. It’s okay to sit it out and get some much needed R&R time to yourself.

Holidays are a time for rest and relaxation, running around like a chicken with your head cut off will just make you more insane.


Day 7: Schedule Time for Yourself

It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s a necessity. – Mandy Hale

It’s just as important that you take time this holiday to attend to YOU. With only a few days left until Christmas and New Years, your calendar is probably full (if not overbooked).

Block out a few hours over the next few days for yourself. Catch up on to-do’s, get some last minute holiday shopping done, or simply watch a few episodes of your favorite Netflix show. Whatever will make you happy and ready to take on the rest of your festivities full-throttle.

If you don’t designate this time for yourself in advance, something will come up to take its place!


Day 8: Embrace Instability

Change is never painful, only resistance to change is painful- Buddha

We’re at a pivotal point in our lives where nothing seems to be stable. Friends graduate, move, & get real jobs. Families grow up. Traditions change. Chances are, the holidays aren’t the same as they were when you were a kid.

I’m all for nostalgia, but sometimes, dwelling on the past can backfire. It’s hard not to miss the carefree days of winter break when our biggest concerns were what made it on our Christmas lists.

Instead of letting change make you feel unsteady, embrace it.  Change opens the door to let something new into your life. It’s up to you to make the most of it. The holidays are a time to go with the flow, not get caught up in play-by-play plans or expectations (see day 1!).


Day 9: Adjust Your Perception

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses- Abraham Lincoln

Your life is what you perceive it to be. Whether your life is good, bad, or in between is completely up to you.

For example, I made a lot of mistakes during my first year as an entrepreneur. The fact I’m still living at home is enough to show you I haven’t figured everything out quite yet. I can look back on this year and think about what I didn’t do right. I could look at this year as a failure.

Or, I can change my perception & make this year a success. I can choose to focus on the progress I’ve made. The fact I was able to launch my first beta test, make my first dollar on my own, and inspire other student entrepreneurs is worth celebrating.

It takes a lot of discipline to get control over your perception. You constantly have to play devil’s advocate to your own mind and opinions. Like everything, it takes practice. Meditation has done wonders for me, but simply being mindful of how you perceive something is enough to start getting control of it.  


Day 10: Take a Break From Social Media

Comparison is the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt

Social media alters our perception to see the world through a filtered lens. Right now, your social feeds are probably flooded with pictures depicting the perfect holiday season. As you scroll through, you might compare your holiday experience to theirs.

Just remember you’re seeing a filtered version of reality. You’re seeing what people want you to see, not how things really are.

This is a time for you to mentally prep for 2017. Taking a break from social media allows you to come back to the present moment and focus on you and your own happiness.

 


Day 11: Start Visualizing 2017

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. – Harriet Tubman

There are less than 48 hours (!) until Christmas. You’re knee deep in family & festivities by now, in dire need of a little TLC for yourself.

For an instant uplifter, start visualizing what your want 2017 to be. In the midst of the hustle & bustle, let your mind drift to your biggest hopes and dreams for the next year.

Tune out your bickering nephews, drunk uncle, or nagging grandma & use that time to conjure up your best year yet.


Day 12: Count Your Blessings

I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. Life is full of blessings. Sometimes, we’re just too blind to see them. – Unknown

As entrepreneurs, we’re always looking for new opportunities. We’re always chasing the next best thing. We have to pause and remember what we have accomplished in both our work and personal lives. This time of year is truly about celebrating the good in our world.

Count the blessings that you have in our life; loved ones, friends, family, food, a roof over your head, even having internet to read this. Our culture makes this season about receiving new gifts, instead of remembering the ones you already have in your life.

This Christmas, remember the reason for the season. Find some peace in the blessings you already have in your life & prepare yourself to receive new blessings, no matter how big or small, in 2017.


Happy Holidays!

Startup Nightmares

We asked 17 students what their biggest startup fears were.

1. Failing miserably.

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2. Someone copying your idea, and doing it better than you.


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3. Manufacturing…. Anything.


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4. FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS.


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5. Realizing your financial projections are utter bull-shit.


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6. The University claiming they own your idea.


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7. Being so engulf/dedicated that I lose touch with loved ones.


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8. Leaving my old job to pursue [my startup] full-time.


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9. Stuck with a bad partner or having to fire someone you care about.


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10. Getting into a bad deal.


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11. I don’t know how to do x, y, or z about a business (website building, marketing, pitching).


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12. Moving forward without having a solid plan.


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13. No safety net (monetary).


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14. Not being happy in the end, after investing and pursuing.


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15. Not being good enough/having what it takes.


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16. Being rejected/having idea rejected by a lot of people at once.


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17. Never actually giving my idea (or myself) a real chance.


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Wondering, “what if?” Don’t let fear of launching your idea hold you back. Find support in our FREE student startup community here.

3 things you should know about fear of launching a startup

Halloween is a time to enjoy being scared. From scary movie marathons, to haunted houses, we seek the feeling of suspense and surprise.

But what happens when fear isn’t just fantasy anymore? Since I launched SPURstartup, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and suspense are emotions I’ve come to accept as normal.

I used to think I was going through something that most entrepreneurs don’t. After all, startup teams are always portrayed as optimistic, fearless risk-takers. Before I launched SPUR, I felt like I was at a disadvantage because I had all of this self-doubt.

I couldn’t of been more wrong. I asked student entrepreneurs to anonymously share their startup fears (if they had them!) and was surprised how many responded. Being afraid to go down a risky path is 100% normal, it’s just not talked about very much because it doesn’t go with the gutsy & bold startup narratives of famous entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are humans, too. We have fear, hesitations, and self-doubt. But we overcome these weaknesses, and you can, too. Here are three things you should know to overcome your fear of launching your startup.

1. Don’t confuse perseverance with fearlessness.
Our culture idolizes successful entrepreneurs. We expect them to be fearless risk-takers that radiate confidence 24/7. I think our culture has confused fearlessness with relentless perseverance. Entrepreneurs have to be more resilient, but that doesn’t mean fearless. It just means they face their fears head-on and overcome them.

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Entrepreneurs use bad experiences to grow stronger each day. Perseverance through the scariest of times is what will ultimately be the difference between success and failure.

2. Know things will get less scary overtime.
Think back to your first semester in college when figured out everything the hard way- by screwing up, getting lost, or making a mistake. After one semester, you got your bearings and were able to navigate everything on a slightly smoother path. The only reason it was so hard that first semester is because it was something new.

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This is like working on your first startup. You know less than you think you do, and, most of the time, you find out you’re wrong the hard way. But as you get more experience, you get more confidence. You do start to figure things out and things take on a different perspective overtime. What seems terrifying and overwhelming to you right now will feel like a breeze a few months from now.

3. Avoiding your fears makes matters worse.
We try to push fear in the back of our minds because we think that fear is related to weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. How you deal with your fears will determine if you’re strong. If you hide from your fears and stay away from all of the things that make you uncomfortable, you’ll never reach your full potential. Fear will define you if you avoid it. The moment you admit to yourself, “I’m afraid of ‘xyz’ happening” the moment you can start liberating yourself from your fears.

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I know launching a startup can be scary, but you don’t have to do it on your own! Join our community HERE and find support, guidance, and mentorship.

#SPURmoments: Olia Bosovik

Founder | Travabond
Assistant Director | Venture Development Center at UT Dallas

Olia Bosovik is a world traveller from Eastern Europe and an aspiring entrepreneur, who along with a few friends co-founded Travabond- a web platform for planning unique off-the-beaten path bachelorette trips and girlfriend getaways. Her team recently had a successful campaign on SPURstartup, that you can see here, to get this business up and going.

She graduated with an MBA from UT Dallas in December of 2015 where she came up with the idea for the startup and where her team took third place in UTD’s Business Idea Competition.Prior to joining UTD as an Assistant Director of the Venture Development Center, Olia worked in commercial lending for Comerica Bank where she got to work with small businesses, real estate development, and oil and gas exploration companies. When she’s not traveling, working on her startup or at work you can find her doing Pilates, playing tennis and sand volleyball, hanging out at a local coffee shop, and trying out new venues and things to do around Dallas.

 


Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

I am passionate about working with smart, driven and creative people and about helping others. I get excited thinking  that one day something I created will make someone else’s life better and add value to them. I also like to be in charge of my own life and destiny.  I don’t like to be confined by rules and hierarchy. It was difficult to work for a large financial institution because of that. I am a self-motivated, fast paced, efficient, and impatient. I like getting things done and prefer to fix things that don’t work then wait forever to get something done just right. Most large companies do not operate this way, so I found myself feeling stuck working in that environment. I have also failed numerously in my life and have always come out stronger and with lessons that taught me how to do better next time. i think it’s important to understand that and be ready going into entrepreneurship.

 


How do you balance school, work, and your startup?

It’s all about time management. I worked full-time while I was getting my bachelors degree full time, so juggling multiple things  at once is not new to me. Prioritizing and making to-do lists is key an making sure to put everything in the calendar is what I try to do so I don’t forget where I have to be and when.

 


What inspired you to start Travabond?

I love traveling. It has always been my passion and a source of inspiration. I love learning about new places, meeting new people, emerging myself in a local culture, it changed my perspective of the world, and made me  realize how small we are compared to the rest of it. My passion for traveling and recognizing the pains of planning group trips inspired me to start the business.

 


What is it like working for IIE when you are a new entrepreneur yourself?

It’s amazing! Best decision I’ve ever made. It’s true they say: we must align our actions with our goals. I take pride in being  a part of someone else’s journey and supporting them, creating programs and finding resources to help other startups. One day tables will turn and I will be in need of support and I will have a network of people and resources to offer me the help and support.

 


What advice do you have for other aspiring student entrepreneurs who want to start their business in college?

Now is the best time. Quit planning and start doing. I wish we would have launched our website sooner. There is nothing to lose, I mean literally nothing. Most of us don’t have families, kids, mortgages etc to worry about, so even if the idea completely fails you’ll be so much more equipped to succeed with the next one.

What type of Entrepreneur are you? – Quiz time!

 

What type of Entrepreneur are you?

Take this fun quiz to discover what type of entrepreneur you are and how to leverage your skills!

Go Getter

You’re extremely motivated, confident, and optimistic. To you, the world is a place full of unlimited opportunities. You enjoy taking leaps of faith and frequently use your intuition to make decisions without hesitation. In the entrepreneurial world, you are an opportunist with a fearless attitude that drives progress.
Start capitalizing on your skills and pursue your entrepreneurial dream with SPURstartup!

Architect

You know that there is always a means to an end and strategy and planning is the best way to get there. You recognize the constraints on a situation and embrace them to find the best plan of action. You eliminate risk by planning ahead for your opponents move so that you can be in control of the situation. As an entrepreneur, you have the unique ability to navigate your plan of action ahead of time to make sure you stay on target and work efficiently.
Start capitalizing on your skills and pursue your entrepreneurial dream with SPURstartup!

Hero

You like to find solutions to problems that revolve around people. You’re kind hearted, cause-focused, and willing to take a risk. “Giving up” is not a word in your vocabulary, you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to be a social entrepreneur, using your talents to find solutions that can change the world.
Start capitalizing on your skills and pursue your entrepreneurial dream with SPURstartup!

Fixer Upper

You’re a jack of all trades, frequently using your wide variety of skills in a strategic way to solve problems. You thrive in collaborative working environments that allow you to serve multiple roles. When trying to solve a problem, you’re not easily discouraged because you know that perseverance will always lead you to a solution. In the entrepreneurial world, you often assume leadership roles because you have the ability to help with a variety of tasks to give strategic direction in all areas of a project.
Start capitalizing on your skills and pursue your entrepreneurial dream with SPURstartup!

Light-Bulb Guy

You’re a true innovator and always coming up with new ideas. You thrive in creative environments and have the ability to see opportunities from multiple perspectives. When it comes to risk, you have little hesitation and enjoy taking chances. In the entrepreneurial world, you constantly push the status quo with your fresh perspective and endless supply of new ways to solve a problem.
Start capitalizing on your skills and pursue your entrepreneurial dream with SPURstartup!
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6 Ways to be a great entrepreneur, grom a Shark Tank insider

blog-robyn

Business Development Manager | Mark Cuban Companies

Robyn is the Business Development Manager for Mark Cuban Companies and advises the SPUR team on all things startup. When she’s not getting me through another quarter-life crisis, she’s advising teams from Shark Tank and networking with every VC in the Dallas startup scene. Here are six ways to be a great entrepreneur, from someone who has mentored the best (and sometimes… the worst).

 

  1. Own your intensely fearless personality. “I love working with entrepreneurs because they aren’t afraid to try new things or think outside of the box. It’s invigorating to be around that energy!”
  2. Ask yourself, ‘is this the path of least resistance to something better?’ “Mark made this point to me once and it has stuck with me. What it means is ask yourself does this make someone’s life easier and when it comes to selling your product, put yourself in the shoes of your customer.”
  3. Know your customers and industry better than anyone else. “So many sales people try to push their ideas onto their customer but don’t find out what their customer needs to be successful and achieve their goals. Do this and then try to help them do it!”
  4. Teams are everything. “Persistence, time management and the ability to recognize your shortcomings” are characteristics Robyn looks for in good entrepreneurs. But no entrepreneur is good enough on their own. “Surround yourself with those who can have those skills. A leader is only as good as his team!”
  5. Don’t forget to thank those that help you along the way. “As new entrepreneurs, you’ll meet many people along the way that make introductions or mentor you if only for a short period. Keep track of these people and keep them close, nurture those relationships and don’t forget to thank them for their help.”
  6. Just ask! The best way to be a good mentee is to simply “ask for what you need!”

Meet Nicholas Ryan, our new Student Ambassador from Australia!

Nic lives in Canberra, Australia and is SPURstartup’s first official ambassador. Nic has a passion for entrepreneurship. After taking FirstGear, our intro startup course, he asked how he could be involved to spread the word about SPURstartup to other high school students in Australia. Our answer? Welcome to the team, mate. 

Get to know Nic and his passions! Check out the Q&A below.

 


Why are you interested in Entrepreneurship?

“Ever since I was young I have loved exploring news ideas and new ways to learn. I enjoy taking risks, working hard and being someone who wants to bring something new and improved into the world. I was fortunate to grow up around business as my dad is a consultant/entrepreneur, he played a huge part in me wanting to be an entrepreneur and gave me the love for business. In school, the topics I enjoyed most were centered around themes that consisted with business and entrepreneurship.”

 


What are you most passionate about?

“My passion lies with three things that really shape my life. The first thing is family and friends, I love spending time with family and friends and building relationships and sharing experiences. Giving back to the community is something I place an immense value on. My third passion is sports, growing up my family would always be playing sports in the backyard and enjoying what nature had to offer.”

 


What do you see as the biggest obstacle young entrepreneurs face?

“First the facts. over 90% of startups fail. I believe there are two big obstacles entrepreneurs face. The first obstacle is entrepreneurs are stuck in the mindset that they have to do everything in the business from finance to sales. Learning how to ask for help and take on board other people’s opinions is vital. Asking for help doesn’t show your weakness, it shows you want to learn. SPUR gives entrepreneurs a chance to ask questions and get the support every young entrepreneur needs. The second obstacle entrepreneurs face is work ethic.

‘The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary’

This is one great quote. Working long hours to perfect your business or product is all about being an entrepreneur, knowing how to work hard is something entrepreneurs must know.”

 


Why do you want to take SPUR to the Outback?

“Australia is developing a growing startup culture. While the demographics are different to the United States, the opportunities and innovations are abundant. I think there are so many unique ideas in Australia that are not being acted on because people do not have the knowledge of how to go about being an entrepreneur. SPUR is a great resource to teach young entrepreneurs like myself the steps to take to set up a business, and information you have to think about in order to maximize your business! I hope to educate people in Australia of SPUR and launch more Aussie startups!”

Students of the Week: Ashton Kennedy & Veena Somareddy

University of Texas, Dallas
Founders | Converse VR

Converse VR crowdfunded on SPURstartup, see their campaign here.

 


Why do you want to be an Entrepreneur?

Ashton | My dad became an entrepreneur when I was 11 and has been working on his passion ever since. He had an active role in my life and I appreciated that his work allowed him that flexibility. I have always hoped for the same in my own life. I’ve been a part-time freelancer for a very long time and enjoy creating and seeing projects through to completion. Creating a sustainable business around my skills has been one of my goals while working on my MBA. When it came to developing a business idea, I wanted to merge my skills with a new emerging market and saw virtual reality content development as that opportunity. With that focus, I now have a purpose and mission behind starting a company and a channel to continue creating stories that impact people and applications that improve people’s lives.

 


How do you see Converse VR positively impacting the Texas VR community?

Veena | Converse VR will be a place for all VR/AR enthusiasts to read about news in Texas and also showcase their work. Its place for them to meet other like minded individuals to collaborate and  work on projects they are passionate about and create quality content for this emerging industry.

Ashton | In the last 6 months that I’ve been digging into the VR ecosystem I have yet to encounter a centralized community for VR creatives in Texas and the majority of the industry seems to be settling in SF and LA. Even with the magnetic pull to the West Coast, Samsung’s immersive product R&D is right here in Richardson, TX and there are active VR communities in Houston and Austin, but they are all relatively unconnected to one another. That’s why it is an important part of Converse VR’s mission to help unite these groups with the Dallas community so that we can help grow a strong virtual reality industry in Texas. It’s important to not limit the industry to a single geographical area and open up businesses where creativity meets technology.

 


Why are you passionate about virtual reality?

Veena | I grew up playing games and being able to play those games again without the barriers of a screen and feel like you are actually in the game environment gives a tremendous sense of presence. I also like to create my own environments, interactions in the virtual world and make it as immersive and enjoyable as possible. Since its a field that is growing and changing rapidly, there are lot of opportunities to explore the applications of VR, from games to training to listening to music in VR, a project that I had worked on previously.

Ashton | Virtual Reality opens up a new realm of ways to tell stories, to learn, and to experience our world. With its unique ability to provide interactive immersion, there are many opportunities to create powerful, empathetic films and applications that people can learn from and enjoy. Users have the ability to be an active participant in their experience giving the outcome more weight. VR also lowers the cost of simulations that can help train people for tough, highly technical jobs or help improve their lives by providing an escape from reality to cope with pain or other mental ailment. There are many other applications we haven’t yet discovered that could possibly enhance our everyday lives – that possibility of exploration and creation fuels my desire to work in the medium.

 


How has SPURstartup helped you with your startup journey?

Ashton | Jon and Maggie have been integral champions in getting our startup on its feet. Jon helped us with our logo’s design and Maggie helped us refine our campaign messaging and purpose to get our initial seed funding. The platform has been a great tool in getting the word out about what we’re trying to achieve, as well as a huge motivator in diving head first into defining our company and producing our first content and products.

 


Check out Converse VR on SPURstartup, here, and help them bring the VR community to Texas!

Student of the Week: Justin Elhert

University of Texas at Dallas
Founder | Fridgely

Why we love Justin:
Justin has found a unique way to combat an old problem: food waste. Fridgely notifies you when your food is going to expire, making the process of saving food (and money!) easy. The app will even suggest recipes utilizing ingredients that need to be used soon! He’s crowdfunding to make Fridgely better while feeding families in need.

Click here to see Justin’s campaign and feed families!

Justin Ehlert is a senior Computer Science major at the University of Texas at Dallas. He’s the founder of Jump Space Apps, University Eats and Fridgely. When he’s not developing you can find him on the baseball field where he serves as a student coach for the baseball team.

 


How does your campaign give back to the local community?

“One of the awesome things about my campaign is that I’m donating meals to the North Texas Food Bank for every pledge. This means that my backers are not only helping me, but they are helping feed underprivileged families and children as well. Food waste affects everyone, and it’s important to be able to help out those around us as well.”

 


What inspired you to start Fridgely?

“I was tired of opening my fridge and seeing so much expired food. I was living in an apartment with three other male college roommates. As you can imagine, our fridge was pretty disgusting. Food would get pushed to the back and I would quickly forget what food I had. Then I would discover it later after it had already expired. This waste of food and money really annoyed me and I wanted to come with a system that would remind me when my food was going to expire.”

 


What would having a successful campaign do to help Fridgely and the fight against food waste?

“Helping Fridgely through the campaign would allow me to build out the last couple of features that will really make Fridgely an amazing application. These features are mainly centered around the ability to scan the barcode of an item and immediately get an estimated expiration date, this would make the item entering process significantly faster for our users. The donations would also help me build out a system where you can simply take a picture of our receipt from the grocery store and have all of your food automatically added into the app.”

 


Why are you passionate about helping people waste less food?

“Food waste not only hurts us, but it hurts the environment as well. The food we don’t eat and throw away ends up in our landfills and negatively impacts our planet. By eating the food we already have we also cut down on our dependence for food. When someone is trying to decide whether or not they want to get fast food after work, Fridgely will remind them that they have leftovers that are going to expire soon. Hopefully this makes the user chose to eat the leftovers instead. Fridgely keeps excess food from being thrown away and helps save that person money.

 


To see Justin’s crowdfunding campaign for Fridgely, click here!