The Wesleyan Entrepreneurship Society is creating a new service to bring together entrepreneurial students with similar ideas and different skill sets who are interested in creating start-ups.
Prospective economics majors Thatcher Eills ’17, Sebastian Cañizares ’17, and John-Henry Carey ’18 explained that the project is in response to their own difficulties in finding computer programmers to work with on start-up projects. Cañizares said that this motivated them to create the new service.
“All of us over the summer, at one point, were trying to create an app or a business and didn’t have a way of starting it because none of us are actual programmers,” Cañizares said. “We all got together to make this problem solvable.”
The first step in this process was to post a survey explaining the service and to gather information about how to make it most helpful to specific student needs. Though the survey was originally posted for students at the University, the intention is for it to reach out to other college students across the country.
“There are kids all over the country, all over the world, who have ideas but don’t know what the next step is,” Carey said. “This program will make that next step a lot easier because you’re going to find the people that have the skills necessary to take your idea and materialize it.”
Through personal and academic connections, Carey, Cañizares, and Eills have already reached out to students at a number of different universities. They plan to market their completed project by working with entrepreneurship societies as well as business and computer programming clubs at other universities.
Eills has felt that the University is not very focused on start-up culture. By targeting a bigger audience, the group hopes that University students will be able to connect with people from other schools.
Eills expressed optimism about student interest, both at the University and elsewhere.
“I think this is definitely something Wesleyan students could get behind,” Eills said. “The Entrepreneurship Society has between 50 and 100 members, which is not completely representative of the people who would be interested in it at this school, but I think there are plenty of people at nearly any school who are interested in creating a business.”
The members of the Entrepreneurship Society completed the survey at their most recent meeting. Founder and president of the society Yekaterina Sapozhnina ’16 spoke to the open and supportive nature of the club’s meetings.
“At meetings, I encourage members to work on their startups and use their peers in the society to advance their projects,” Sapozhnina said. “Thatcher, John-Henry, and Sebastian took this opportunity and had us take the survey for their…startup.”
Carey, Cañizares, and Eills explained that they have received around 50 responses. They intend to use the student feedback to ensure that they are providing the most desirable service.
“We’d like around 100, just to see if people seem to be responding well to the idea,” Eills said. “So far they are, but we’d just like a little bit more information to refine it as much as possible before actually putting something out there.”
The team is hopeful that this online service will make the process of creating start-ups more efficient. Eills emphasized the potential for development and progress that could be offered.
“The goal is that anyone can get something out of this,” Eills said. “If you’re looking to just do a small job and even to potentially make some money, there will be people willing to hire younger people who aren’t very experienced for a lower salary.”
Though similar services already exist, many target professional audiences with business degrees or established software developers. The team hopes its service will create a space for young people to come together in a secure setting.
Carey spoke to the security measures that will be used to protect students’ intellectual property.
“If you have your idea out there, you have to sign an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] to be a part of the network,” Carey said. “When people look at your idea, it is registered and recorded who they are, so that if they go off and do something with it, it’s clear that they saw your idea first.”
Eills emphasized the benefits of the service.
“The goal is to create something where people can come in, be as involved or not involved as they want to be, and get something that they want out of the process,” Eills said.