Summer Founders is about a third of the way through its 11-week programming and has already provided participating student ventures with valuable lessons on their entrepreneurial journey. The Horn Entrepreneurship media team caught up with a few of the student founders to find out what insights they have gathered from the program so far.
Founder Suryansh Gupta, College of Engineering, Computer Science, Class of 2020, spearheads 360VR Technology, a venture that combines virtual reality with drone information aggregation to provide critical information to first responders during emergency situations. The Hen Hatch 2019 winner has spent the first month of Summer Founders determining next steps in the venture’s long term plan.
“Our target for June was to finish the beta version of our minimally viable product,” explained Sury. “Now that we have that all worked out, we can start getting it into the hands of first responders so we can get quality user data and feedback. The data will help guide what we do the rest of the summer with the venture.”
Aside from reaching his goal of creating the software beta, Sury has connected with the advisors brought into the Venture Development Center to meet with the students about their ventures. The young founder also shared his excitement about being able to dig into his venture full-time.
“The advisors have been incredibly helpful to connect to new contacts and provide some outside expertise that really benefits us and what we're trying to do,” said Sury. “With Summer Founders being my number one priority, I don't have to worry about missing class or missing meetings, and the program gives this awesome ability to get focused on 360VR Technology, which school really doesn't allow.”
Willingness to Change
Founders Abu Kamara, College of Arts & Sciences, Mathematics, Class of 2020 and Hope Vega, College of Health Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics, Class of 2020, are working on their venture, Nollege, with an aim to help international students effectively assimilate into the American college experience.
“Initially, we were looking at connecting students already on campus, but after going through some customer discovery and learning about the markets, we have decided to focus on helping international students,” explained Hope Vega. “We’ve found that international students contribute $50 billion to the US economy and have tons of problems navigating through life in a new country.”
Some of those same problems have impacted the venture’s customer discovery process and strategy.
“We actually face the problems we are trying to address throughout our customer discovery,” shared Abu Kamara. “As we try to connect to international students on campus to learn about their problems and how we can best create a platform to help them, we’ve come across so many different cultural and language barriers. We’ve had to look at our strategy and make sure the questions are simple, make sure we avoid idioms, things that Americans would take for granted.”
Founders Andrew Cercena, Lerner College of Business and Economics, Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation and Finance, Class of 2021 and Nick Novoa, Lerner College of Business and Economics, Marketing, Class of 2021, are working hard on Snoop, a platform dedicated to helping prospective college students find the best fitting school for them through video chat communication. The pair traveled to Hershey, PA for an industry conference to grow their contacts and begin more rigorous customer discovery.
“Summer Founders has been incredibly in-depth and provided so much hands-on learning,” shared Nick Novoa. “Just being here in the Venture Development Center, surrounded by people like Vince [DiFelice] and the other students in the program, you can feel the competitive nature. It’s competition to work harder and make your venture the best it can be. Seeing the work ethic other people have is contagious and inspires me to keep putting in my own hard work.”
This post is the first in a series designed to share insights and updates on the participating Summer Founders teams. Check back at the end of July and August for more updates 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.