3 Ways Building my First Prototype Turned me into a Real Entrepreneur

3 reason to build a prototype

This previous March I finished out my very first crowdfunding campaign! It was a daunting task, having had no experience with building and managing one whatsoever, but I exceeded my goal thanks to SPURstartup’s team. I knew the newly acquired funds would be perfect for building a prototype. After a break over the summer I cranked out a couple prototypes and my eyes were opened. Running a crowdfunding campaign was a huge learning experience in and of itself, but building a prototype brought light onto so much more for me, as well and I’m here to share it with you!

    1. Just finish SOMETHING
      As I had mentioned, I took a break from my idea over the summer so I could continue school and begin internships. In all honesty, I also put it off because I had all these funds, I didn’t know HOW to use it on building a prototype. I didn’t want to disappoint all the people who supported my idea. I got advice from Jeremy Vickers, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship director at my University, to just go to Home Depot, get some materials and slap it together. I still put it off for a while, but this September we finally got around to it and I was amazed! Not by our roughly made prototype but by how many ideas and approaches came to mind for our next one.

      Image1
      Image2

      When you have been apart of the process of putting it together, you are forced to think about things you couldn’t have predicted when you were just speculating. When you have something real in front of you, the idea fireworks WILL go off. No matter how scared you are of how something will turn out, remember it’s better to have something bad to work with than nothing at all.

 

    1. Resources are all around
      By having a physical prototype, we were able to show people! A fellow classmate took a look and kindly informed us that a vacuum form would be the perfect tool for making our product faster and look cleaner. He told us about a tools lab on campus with power tools, a 3D printer, and, what we needed, a vacuum form. We were thrilled and tried it out the next week!Stencil FR (2)Definitely ask around your school or area for any tools and spaces that are open for you to use. If you pay for tuition you might as well get what you can out of it! That same week were building prototype two, we went to 1 Million Cups, a coworking space in Dallas. The collaborative entrepreneurship hub offers free-coworking-Wednesdays! I discovered a great space to take advantage of all the startups working there, get advice, and potentially gain resources. Dallas has proven to be a very nurturing place for entrepreneurs. It only makes me more excited to plug-in and utilize all the lovely things Dallas has to help us succeed.

 

  1. It opens doors
    Building a prototype has allowed my team to progress so much more than when it was just a concept. I used Prototype Two to take nicer pictures, which became the center of our official website IcingAid.com. Having a real site that depicted our concept well gave us leverage to share it with potential customers and companies we wanted to connect with. We are now able to collect emails and begin analyzing feedback. We also feel more comfortable to enter business idea competitions–three to be exact– which may also bring us closer to success!
    via GIPHY

I hope this inspires you to go out and starting finishing those baby steps! Start with what you know, and before long the right things will come into your life to bring you closer to a running business.

 

#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.

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!

Student of the Week: Jason Dang

University Texas Dallas
Founder | LEO Supply Co.
US Marine Corp

Jason was crowdfunding for LEO Supply Co.: here


Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

“I have two main desires for becoming an entrepreneur. The first of which is that I love to help people grow, expand, and better their lives. This can range from helping a complete stranger to helping friends and family. The second is that I love the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want, whether it be play or business.”

 


How do you stay motivated?

“With entrepreneurship there’s a lot of freedom to  make your own decisions and mistakes, and grow. And at the end of it all, if it all pays off the financial reward along with the feeling of accomplishment is what allows me to continue to do whatever I want.”

 


You were in the Marine Corp, how did that experience influence who you are as an entrepreneur?

“My biggest take away from being in the Marine Corp is that I’ve become more flexible and adaptable. In the Corp, plans change on the fly and you have very few resources to work with in most cases. These two aspects have taught me to be able to do a lot with what little I have and to be able to understand that things happen and you have to be able to adapt and overcome to get the results you want.”

 


How has SPURstartup helped you with your startup journey?

“SPUR has helped me in the sense of making me physically hone down how to explain my startup idea and has forced me to create a foundation for an online presence. This gives me the ability to find out what works and continue building my network.”