Ever wonder how someone came up with his or her startup idea? We’ve compiled a list of some of the moments that inspired startup founders.
Appetite, a 1789 venture created by Morgan Howell and Josh Potter, is an app that helps individuals decide on a restaurant based on their current activity, mood, and preferences.
“We saw the way that Songza was entering the market, and we realized that we wanted to apply that to food,” said Howell.
They began coding Appetite in December 2014, around the time of Carolina Challenge, which is UNC’s business venture competition designed to promote entrepreneurship.
Appetite is currently available on Android devices and is coming soon to IOS.
Reddit’s startup story begins with a devastating rejection. Co-founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman were able to score an interview to pitch their startup idea with Y Combinator Founder Paul Graham, but their mobile food ordering startup was quickly rejected.
However, they were given a second chance—but only if they were willing to start from scratch. During a phone call, Graham told Ohanian and Huffman that they needed to “build the front page of the Internet,” and so Reddit was born.
“As a college student at UNC, I realized that I was missing out on so many great events and wanted to create a solution for that,” said Ryan Bregier, founder of former 1789 venture and event discovery app Hypestarter.
Users can share their events across devices and can connect with existing social media accounts in order to create campaigns for each event.
It seems as if everyone is using SnapChat these days, and it all started when a friend of co-founder Evan Spiegel mentioned regretting sending a particular photo over text. This led Spiegel on the hunt for an app that involved disappearing text, photo, or video, and when he was unable to locate one, SnapChat was born.
Airbnb is a site that allows individuals to rent out their lodgings and gives others the change to book unique spaces, whether that be an apartment, home, villa or castle.
The year was 2007 and Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were both out of the job and having financial problems. When they realized that the annual Industrial Design Society of America conference was approaching and that Los Angeles accommodations would be hard to come by, they decided to pull out some air mattresses and turn their apartment into an “air bed and breakfast.”
FreshSpire, a 1789 venture, aims to help grocery stores, their customers, and the environment by targeting disparities in effective food distribution present in surrounding communities.
“Our team came together and sought to create a way in which grocers could connect with consumers motivated to buy healthy food at lower prices, all while reducing landfill greenhouse gas emissions in the process,” said co-founder Hannah Sloan.
Once on the market, the FreshSpire mobile app will alert consumers of discounts on near-expiring produce that are marked down in their local grocery stores. By doing so, FreshSpire will keep produce from reaching landfills and lower the price of healthy food for consumers.
During Sloan's senior high school, she and four other young women came together to compete in the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, choosing to focus on the food industry. They conducted research on the greatest inefficiencies for grocers, consumers and the environment, and were inspired to create what would later become FreshSpire.
“We were appalled by the statistics we found, listing that our state of North Carolina was — is — ranked among the top in the nation in terms of both childhood obesity and percentage of citizens experiencing food shortage,” said Sloan.
“In processing such measures of inequality, coupled with knowledge of the environmental ramifications of consistent corporate and household food wastage, we thought there had to be a better way to address this gap in effective food distribution.”
Check out more startup stories here.
With everything that goes on while you’re away at college—trying to nab a B in ECON 101, making time for friends on the weekends, figuring out how you’re going to afford this week’s meal, and spending half your time in the library—launching a startup doesn’t seem like the most practical thing. But as CEO and Founder of HeadbandsOfHope.org Jessica Ekstrom points out in her article “Student Startup: Why College is the Perfect time to Launch a Business,” college might be the perfect time to start down an entrepreneurial path.
1. You have access to tons of resources
Just head over to your university’s business school and you’ll find countless professors who not only have the know-how to start you on your startup career, but want to help you succeed. Some schools, such as UNC, even offer an entrepreneurship minor. You can also find local startup accelerators like 1789 Venture Lab or Launch Chapel Hill to aid you in building your startup. Best of all, it’s all free!
FreshSpire co-founder Hannah Sloan says that the resources available to college students—especially those at large research institutions—are extremely helpful.
“Opportunities for seeking start-up capital, mentorship, pro-bono creative work, etc. are also much more easily accessible in an institutionalized setting like college,” she said.
“What is more, universities are great places to take your ideas and make them malleable: while there are a wealth of constructive mentors, there's practically always someone who will critique and dismember your idea; these people are vital to the success of the idea in the long run because they point out critical flaws or spur a shift in group focus. “
2. Like-minded peers
When you’re away at college, you have the opportunity to connect with countless other students with the same level of ambition as you. This not only fuels you to do your best, but introduces you to several potential business partners.
You can even enter competitions with fellow student entrepreneurs that not only help you hone your skills, but network as well. If you’re at UNC, check out Carolina Challenge, where you’ll have the chance to win seed funding for your early-stage idea.
“People starting their own startups need to be able to create a collaborative group that are willing to go outside their comfort zones,” said Morgan Howell, co-creator of the app Appetite.
“Connect those people and bring them together to create the best products.”
3. All the support you need
Speaking of your college peers, they’re always there to support you, whether that be by joining your startup team or helping you spread the word. Make sure to take advantage of social media and have your friends share, retweet and favorite everything you post.
4. It could help you land a job post-grad
Of course, the dream is to have your startup take off (think Facebook), but even if it doesn’t, running a startup while in college gives you plenty of experience to put on your resume when you begin looking for a job.
When asked why he decided to build his startup Appetite, Howell said, “I’m always looking for business ideas and things to add to my portfolio. It’s also a great learning experience, because there are some things that you just can’t learn in a class.”
“Being a software developer is pretty competitive today, so I’m glad to have Appetite to add to my portfolio.”
5. It’s okay to be selfish
Sure, while you’re in college, you have to worry about getting to class and getting your essays turned in on time, but these responsibilities are relatively small compared to what awaits you after graduation.
Hypestarter Co-Founder and CEO Ryan Bregier points out that while in college, his housing was covered, he wasn’t expected to be working a job, and he had lots of free time.
Now out of school, things are different for Bregier in terms of running his startup.
“Everything changes. In college, the focus is on the idea, concept, product development, possibly testing for traction. Afterwards, it becomes about running a business, growing a user or customer base, sales, and developing partnerships with other organizations.”
It’s important to note that while you may have lots of free time, college can be a pretty busy time, especially for young entrepreneurs, so it’s important to stay organized and manage your time well.
“Everything is so busy! Priorities are hard. Working on a startup is often really contingent on momentum and being able to dedicate so much of your time and energy to the project,” said Sloan.
“You really have to take advantage of opportunities when you get them and said opportunities rarely come at convenient times.”
6. Failure is an option
When you’re in the “real world” and your startup is your full-time job, failure is definitely not cool. But when you have the safety net of college, one or two mistakes aren’t the end of the world.
Now is the perfect time to learn and grow, and you’ll never be in a better environment to do so.
Shoutout to 1789 venture Waterless Buddy's, which has just been featured on ABC 11 Eyewitness News. Looking for an eco-friendly waterless carwash? Waterless Buddy's officially launches to the public this fall when it opens at University Place in Chapel Hill. Until then, check out their website to schedule a wash.
Check out the full story here.
Dear 1789 Supporters,
Over the past two years, 1789 has been proud to be an integral part of Carolina’s entrepreneurship community. Since we opened our doors in May 2013, we’ve provided space and resources to dozens of startups and hundreds of individual students, including undergrads, grad students and recent graduates from nearly every department and field of study on campus. We’ve hosted classes for the Minor in Entrepreneurship, the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship. We’ve also hosted numerous campus and community leaders, including Chancellor Carol Folt, Provost Jim Dean, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, and numerous Chapel Hill Town Council members and Orange County Commissioners. We’ve partnered with the CUBE, Launch Chapel Hill and the Chancellor’s Office to bring quality resources and events to campus.
To accomplish all of this, we've relied heavily on the generosity and hard work of many people in the Carolina community and beyond. There are literally too many people to thank to include, but we would be remiss if we did not show our gratitude to our wonderful mentors who volunteer their time. These include Carl Baumann, Laure Levesque, Bryan Hassin, Larry Ross, JoAnn Sciarrino, Tim Flood, Jan Davis, Chris Mumford and Fred Schmid. We also have tremendous resource partners such as Merrill Mason and his team of attorneys at Smith-Anderson, the attorneys at Hutchison Law, the accountants at Blackman and Sloop, and the public relations professionals at Largemouth Communications.
We’ve received tremendous support from our on campus partners, including Ted Zoller and his team at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Judith Cone and her team at the Chancellor’s Office for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Richard Harrill and Mathilde Verdier of the Campus Y, Charles Merritt and Buck Goldstein from the Minor in Entrepreneurship, Dina Mills and Launch Chapel Hill, and Chuck Lovelace and his team at the Morehead-Cain Foundation. Once again, there are too many individuals to list everyone by name, but please know your hard work and support have not gone unnoticed.
As you may have noticed, 1789 has been more active on social media over the last couple of months. We’ve hired a fantastic intern named Rachel Schmitt who is helping us increase our presence online. She’s also in charge of our new blog. We’ll be scouring the Internet for the latest news and commentary on entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as creating relevant original content. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and check out the blog from time to time.
We are also pleased to announce that three current 1789 ventures have been accepted into the accelerator program Launch Chapel Hill for the July ’15 cohort. This makes 9 ventures in total that 1789 has sent to Launch and we are proud that we have played a role in helping these companies reach this important milestone in their development. We look forward to sustaining this campus-to-1789-to-Launch pipeline and believe that the town, county and university will continue to benefit from it.
Finally, we look forward to welcoming back students for the fall 2015 semester. We will be kicking things off with a Week of Welcome Party on August 20 to introduce new students to 1789 and the entire entrepreneurship and innovation community at Carolina. If you know first-year or transfer students who may be interested, feel free to share this event with them.
Thank you again for your continued support of 1789 Venture Lab. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate two years in existence and look forward to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship among Carolina students for many years to come.
Jim Kitchen, Founder,
Aaron Scarboro, Director
Rachel Schmitt, Media Intern
Forbes sat down with three CEOs who run companies off of the 2015 America's Most Promising Companies—Olga Vidisheva of Shoptiques.com, Oliver Miao of Pixelberry Studios and Michael Votto of Votto Vines Importing, Inc.—and asked them what they think makes and entrepreneur.
Here at 1789, we know that inspiration for a great startup idea can come at any time—whether you’re out of school and in a full-time job, or in your dorm studying for your physics final. Here are a few examples of some of the most successful startups whose creation began on a college campus:
The story of Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg has reached almost legendary status, having been immortalized in the 2010 film The Social Network. The startup was launched in 2004, and though it was originally used solely by Harvard students, it quickly spread to schools around the country.
Many have heard the statistic: if Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous one on earth. In January of this year, the company reported that 1.39 billion people log on to Facebook each month. Timothy Stenovac wrote in the Huffington Post article "Facebook is Now Bigger Than the Largest Country on Earth," "Although Facebook’s user base is still expanding, growth has slowed in recent quarters because there simply aren’t as many people left to join the site."
That's a pretty nice problem to have for a startup created back in a dorm room.
Since its creation in 2005 by University of Virginia students Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, Reddit has become one of the top content sites in the world. Conceived as a sort of online bulletin board, Reddit serves as a space for members to post links or text on a myriad of topics.
Leaders and celebrities from around the world have participated in the Reddit AMAs, including President Barrack Obama, Madonna, Bill Gates, Stan Lee, and Stephen Colbert.
In 2014, the site received $50M in funding from venture capitalists and investors, such as actor Jared Leto and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg.
No one is a stranger to the frustration of not being able to send large files over email. MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi decided to do something about it. In 2007 they founded Dropbox, a file sharing service with over 200 million users. Like Reddit, Dropbox was originally invested in by American seed fund Y Combinator.
To check out more successful startups created on college campuses, check out Dan Wilson's article on The Richest, "The 10 Best College Startups of The Past 10 Years."