Summer Founders, now almost three-quarters of the way through its 11-week programming, has already provided participating student ventures with valuable lessons on their entrepreneurial journey. The Horn Entrepreneurship marketing team caught up with a few of the student founders last month, and checked back in for more updates from July.
Perseverance for growth
Founder Amanda Monachelli, Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation, class of 2021, spearheads EmpowHER. Amanda’s startup recognizes that women’s breasts are asymmetrical and provides undergarments that compliment natural body shapes, rather than promote unrealistic body images.
“Summer Founders has been incredibly eye-opening and I have been able to put everything I have into my venture,” said an excited Amanda. “I have made some amazingly beneficial connections that have sparked my progress and made me want to keep pushing further.”
Amanda was ready to dig into a full summer with her venture, but after a tense first week, the young founder wasn’t sure if the program was right for her. After persevering, Amanda has made some priceless connections and tangible progress on delivering her idea.
“Reflecting back on the first week, the program was so intense I wasn't sure I was going to make it all the way through, so I just started taking chances. I made a connection with an undergarment CEO and planned a meeting in New York City. On my way there, I bumped into Heidi Zak, Co-CEO of Third Love, a massive undergarment company, and I was able to connect with her as well.”
Building from within
Founder ChaCha Hudson, College of Arts & Sciences, Fashion & Apparel Studies, class of 2019, continues to pursue The SEWcial Cafe, a community sewing space for women to create, collaborate and develop handmade products in a relaxed, inspiring and innovative environment. The sewing expert turned startup founder has found the community feel of the participating founders to be beneficial to her own progress.
“Initially, I thought I knew my customer,” explained a smiling ChaCha. “But I had never done such intense customer interviews and through that, I've come up with new ideas to better provide for my customers. Being around everyone in the VDC has also been tremendously helpful because I'm not just brainstorming by myself anymore and I can build new ideas from what everyone else offers around me.”
Get outside the building
Founder Kelsey Kosinski, College of Arts & Sciences, Fashion & Apparel Studies, class of 2019, continues her work on Fash‘IN’, which combines her research in sizing outside traditional anthropometric data and designing adaptive clothing for people living with disabilities.
Kelsey echoed ChaCha’s sentiments about the community within the Summer Founders participants: “I’ve found it is invaluable how much you can learn from others and from talking to other people. All our lives, we are taught to brainstorm ourselves on this piece of paper but then it comes to the customer and it's not at all about what you want, or what you have on your paper, it’s what they want and what matters to them, which you can only find out from talking to them.”
The focus on gathering outside opinions has led Kelsey, much like Amanda, outside the building and to new connections, introducing a new problem.
“Coming from a design background with no interaction with my customer, I've now spoken to over 200 people to find out what they want,” explained Kelsey. “Now I am in a noisy space and trying to find out what's most important and what I need to focus on next.”
This post is the second in a series designed to share insights and updates on the participating Summer Founders teams. Check back at the end of August for a final update on the next startups from Horn Entrepreneurship.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.