Fall 2014 Consulting Project: Eventuosity

This fall, one Venture Club Consulting team is working with the startup Eventuosity! We talked to the group leader Blake Spencer to fill us in:

Eventuosity is a cloud-based, scalable software application for the planning and management of events. It is targeting event professionals involved with trade shows, conferences, meetings, or virtually any activity that involves the coordination of people, resources and tasks. Eventuosity is the first application to bridge the wide event-tech gap between registration and post-event analysis, giving users a single tool to “Plan Anything by Planning For Everything”.

Justin Panzer, the founder and CEO, is looking for our team to do two things for him. The first part is a competitive landscape summary with particular focus on newer competitors in the events logistics space.  This will include how they position themselves and what appear to be the strengths and weaknesses of each one.  The latter will be used to provide some insight on where Eventuosity should concentrate resources to adequately differentiate themselves from their competitors.

The second part is potential partner recommendations based on a review of non-competitive players in the event-tech space. Virtuosity must consider solutions providers at other points in the events workflow such as registration, promotion, analytics and marketing automation/CRM.  They already know who most of the players are but we need to figure out the appropriate entry point to approach them and demonstrate value from a working relationship.

Through our relationship with Justin and Eventuosity, we hope to gain an understanding of the extremely competitive and constantly evolving mobile application space.

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Fall 2014 Consulting Project: ‘Chups

This fall, one Venture Club Consulting team is working with the startup ‘Chups! We talked to the group leader Blake Spencer to fill us in:

Our group will be conducting a consulting project for Chups’. This company makes fruit based ketchups from non tomato products. From their description, they are making an old concept new and exciting and are searching for ways to grow their brand. Our project will consist of four basic questions: What competition does Chups’ face? What Does the overall condiment market look like in the US? What points of sale are possible for this product? And what preferences on packaging does the average consumer have? From these questions, our scope of project will range from market research and competitive analysis, to a marketing/packaging strategy. In the end we hope to provide relatively comprehensive answers to the questions, hoping to assist Chups’ in breaking into the condiment market.

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Fall 2014 Consulting Project: Iron Gaming

This fall, one of Venture Club’s Consulting teams are working with startup Iron Gaming! We talked to the group leader Toby D’ambola to fill us in:

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The Iron Gaming project will be exploring the competitive gaming landscape to determine the most effective methods to enter the market. Team members will initially perform market research to reaffirm that this is a viable industry with strong growth projections. Additionally, current processes within Iron Gaming will be assessed and input will be provided regarding certain areas the company should focus their attention. Through these two separate components, the team will develop a strong understanding of the online competitive gaming industry as well as learn about an established start-up that seeks to redevelop their platform offerings.

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Alum Spotlight: Nathaniel Reichel

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Nathaniel Reichel

Who are you and what are you doing?
After graduation last Spring, I have been working as an App Developer at VirtualU, a company that provides a fast, accurate, cost effective 3D scanning platform for the human body.  At VirtualU, I have helped develop our Mobile Web App and Scanner Interface along with handling some business operations.

Where did the idea for your current startup come from?
Our CEO, Louis, who happens to be a fellow boarding school friend of mine came up with the idea along with two other Virginia Tech students back in 2012. Having stayed in touch with Louis over the years, I had known about VirtualU since its birth.

What books, ideas and people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to other entrepreneurs?
Elon Musk and his array of ideas throughout his life have been a personal inspiration. I personally love Tesla, and believe its cars’ technology and performance have proven to be groundbreaking in the auto industry. Elon Musk makes super fast cars that also happen to be incredibly efficient and he makes rocket ships at SpaceX in his spare time; the man is just cool. In terms of reading material, I do not read many books related to entrepreneurship, mostly articles on FastCompany or engadget, but the next book I plan on reading is Art of War by Sun Tzu.

What are your favorite online tools, software or resources and what do you love about them?

As an App Developer, my favorite online sites to learn new code are W3Schools, Teamtreehouse, and Codecademy. These three sites helped me learn almost the entirety of my coding foundation the summer of my Junior year. Teamtreehouse is not free like Codecademy or W3Schools, but it has amazing video tutorials that are absolutely worth the subscription in my opinion. The online tool that I use at work to help me solve everyday coding problems is definitely StackOverflow: a Q and A forum for coders. In terms of coding software, I love Sublime Text Editor for its ease of use and elegance.

What startup besides your own are you most excited about?
There are so many awesome startups out there. I am not particularly excited about any particular one, but we often check Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Shark Tank in the office to see what is out there. The Coolest Cooler, Gramafon, and Hexo+ are personal favorites in our office.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Having only been working at VirtualU for six months, I do not think there are many things I would have done differently. I understand that is not very constructive for any reader trying to gain advice, so from that perspective, I would say that I feel as though I do not have many regrets because I did my research and found a workplace that I knew I would love to work in, with people I looked up to and respected, and knew that I could make a legitimate impact by bringing true value to the company with my work.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?
As I said, I love the people I work with, I enjoy my work, and I’m genuinely excited to wake up every morning. Those things are very important to me, and I’d hope that every college student and current member of the workforce aspires to include those simple parts of life in their daily routine instead of simply salary. In my opinion, if you are part of a company that you truly love and believe in, you will eventually make plenty of money to be happy.

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Fall 2014 Consulting Project: Potomac Air Charters and Avenge, Inc.

This fall, one of Venture Club’s Consulting team is working with startup Potomac Air Charters and Avenge, Inc.! We talked to the group leader Joshua White who was happy to fill us in on the work they will be doing:

My consulting group is working with George Boras, CEO of Potomac Air Charters and Avenge, Inc.  Mr. Boras is looking for help finding and acquiring customers that will utilize chartered business jets to fly in and out of Ardmore, Oklahoma.  Our task this term will be develop a strategic marketing plan on behalf of Potomac Air Charters to reach potential customers traveling to and from the Ardmore airport.​

 

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Alum Spotlight: Lang Craighill

What is your name?
Lang Craighill

Who are you and what are you doing?
I graduated from W&L with a degree in Economics in 1976 and then got my MBA from the Darden School (UVA). I spent most of my career in Information Technology and have moved several times back and forth between established companies such as Apple, SGI, and LexisNexis and start-ups. I have held management positions in manufacturing, staff (accounting & finance), and sales/marketing, but the majority of my positions with large companies were in marketing and sales management.

I was COO of my last startup company, SMSI. SMSI was a software and engineering services company. Our software product, Twister Data Framework, was a data integration product, managing an enterprise’s ETL (Extract, Load, and Transform) process. We sold the company in late 2011 and I’ve spent the past few years consulting with some startups. I’ve also been involved with W&L’s Entrepreneurship Program and have greatly enjoyed the interaction with students, teachers, and alumni.

Where did the idea for your current startup come from?
I don’t currently have a start-up but the idea for SMSI and Twister Data Framework came from two large organizations that the principles at SMSI were long familiar with. SMSI was bootstrapped so we didn’t have the luxury of lots of funding to try different things. Instead we listened carefully to these first two customers and designed a product that met their needs. From that successful beginning we were able to round out the product and sell into many more organizations. I can’t overstate the importance of your first couple of customers.

What books, ideas and people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to other entrepreneurs?
Having worked in IT and for Apple, several of my favorite books are about the beginnings of Silicon Valley and personal computing, such as Fire in the Valley & Hackers. And Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs does a terrific job showing the relentless passion and energy that are required to push a company through change. These aren’t management books – in fact the management style of many of these entrepreneurs is a bit appalling. But they capture the excitement that most entrepreneurs seek.

There are hundreds of books on entrepreneurship, some focusing on products, some of marketing, some management style. A couple of classics are Jim Collin’s Built to Last & Good to Great. I think it’s important to read at least a couple of relevant books a year to keep you focused and grounded…and in some cases, re-inspired.

What are your favorite online tools, software or resources and what do you love about them?
The web has made lots of things easier – from competitive analysis to salary evaluation to online marketing. In addition, most industries have online discussion groups where you can pose a question, or read what “experts” think about various topics. Find this for your industry and use it.

Several traditional back-office functions can now be outsourced (or at least the platform to run the application is available as a service – SaaS). This includes CRM (sales forecasting & pipeline management) such as Salesforce.com and accounting (Microsoft Dynamics & NetSuite).

Regarding what I like about them? Simple – they’re faster and less expensive than traditional tools.

What startup besides your own are you most excited about?
I have always worked in enterprise businesses, never in the consumer space. Even now, I think the most exciting business to be in is monetizing web traffic. This is so fantastically leveraged compared to anything I’ve ever done and is still wide open to new ideas.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
There are dozens of small things – but most importantly, I should have kept in better contact with classmates and business associates through the years. They are terrific resources, but easily forgotten about in the day-to-day challenges of managing a company.What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?
1) Early on establish an advisory board, and as quickly as possible, a management board with people who understand the different parts of your industry & business. They will provide oversight to make sure you stay on track & can help you through the many issues you will face (customer acquisition, financing, hiring & firing, etc.)

2) This will be the most satisfying, and the most difficult thing you have ever done. Make sure you have people around you who can provide the emotional support you need

3) When you start a company, go in with the goal to “build it to last” rather than “build it to sell”. That means make sure that it’s in an industry that you enjoy and that your daily routine is one that you can handle for years. If the company is well put together and successful, down the road you may have the opportunity to sell it and reap the financial rewards. But the road to that final transaction is filled with bumps and turns, many of which you can’t control. You don’t want to be in a position where you have created a successful company, but one that is not very sell-able, and you hate your work schedule, location, the industry, etc.

4) Before you start a company, figure out what you’re good at. This probably means working for someone else for a while. This time also allows you to meet other people you would approach as you build out your management team.

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Fall 2014 Consulting Project: Haylon’s Market

One of our Consulting group leaders, Jordy Stern, filled us in on the hard work the Venture Club is doing this term:

Our team is working with Deke Haylon on his restaurant, Haylon’s Market. Haylon’s Market will be a grab-n-go restaurant in Niantic, CT, set to open in August, 2015. Deke is also considering selling Haylon’s Market food to restaurants and grocery stores. Our team will conduct a market analysis; competitor analysis; legal and regulatory overview; and research on point-of-sale technology. Our research and analysis will be useful for Deke’s business plan he is currently putting together. We hope that  our project will help Deke make strategic decisions for the business, including expanding to a second store or packaging food for retailers.

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