GradFly featured in Tech This Way Blog

GradFly featured in Tech This Way Blog

I don’t believe in being featured too much in the media before launch,  but it’s okay to do it occasionally to generate some sort of excitement – especially if it involves engaging the STEM community.  We have to start introducing the concept anyways and small articles go a long way.

A big thank you to Rob Merlo for writing up this fantastic article.



“Camaron que se duerme…”


There is an expression in Spanish that goes like this:

“Camaron que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.” 

….which means….the shrimp in the sea that nod off get swept away by the current.

Basically, don’t miss the bus.

My mother used to tell me this when I left anything until the last minute.  For some time, I got away with being the washed-away shrimp – I didn’t really seem to mind. But…this has changed since I’ve become an entrepreneur and startup founder.  There is no way I’m missing that bus.

It’s Monday…and that means I’m up emailing customer leads and trying to talk to anyone who’s either a student, a college official, or an HR professional.  It doesn’t matter who….what matters most is that I’m learning as MUCH as I can about the space I’m getting into.  Since I’m working with three models, that’s thrice as much effort I need to be putting in.  One thing’s for sure, I need to be asking the right questions.

So it’s 11:45am, and I’ve already sent around 10-15 emails asking people for their time to kindly answer some questions and also tell them a little bit about what we’re doing at GradFly.  I have also have two appointments today so it should be good to get some answers down on paper.

So for those having the Monday blues, there is no such thing in entrepreneurship.  It’s all about how fast can you move….even better, how FAST are you willing to move.  There is no doubt in my mind that I’m moving at the speed of light.  Okay, okay, maybe not that fast….but if it helps you do what you do…why not?

Customer discovery over beer

urlLast night, I met with Mike Tomidy, Assistant Director of Advancement at the University of Rochester’s Hajim’s School of Engineering.  He and I have met before and he’s been an amazing resource for connecting me to college admission officers and evangelists.  He agreed to meet up once again to catch up and offer some introductions to more folks who could help us. BTW, if anyone hasn’t been to Victoire for some good belgian beer, I highly recommend it. 🙂

I didn’t hold back; I asked an onslaught of questions – particularly questions having to do with how companies currently recruit students and whether the U of R gets pressure from high-tech/engineering companies to feed students into their co-op and internship programs.

Well, it turns out companies are willing to pay top dollar to create exclusive feeder programs.  I’ve known this – I just didn’t realize how much mula these companies are willing to pay.  They’re also well hidden inside the university so it’ll take some work to find more answers on these type of programs.  This is very important for us since our matching algorithm will provide recommendations for GradFly users on various STEM-oriented careers based on their projects.

Take optics for instance, UR is well known for its optics programs – companies may spend up to $50k to have colleges like UR establish an exclusive program that introduces and trains students to pursue a career at that respective company. Our job is to learn more about what companies are looking for  and what ‘qualifies’ a student to consider company internships and career offerings.

Who are the people responsible for running these programs?   Usually C-level folks and head of HR.  This has given me some fuel to approach high-tech companies who are looking for the right students.

My biggest take-away:

Companies are spending top dollar to find the right technical candidates.

Students with technical degrees have inherent value because they can ‘create’. Companies see these students as assets and an investment.

Since colleges are losing research dollars at the graduate level, they will rely on undergraduate researchers – it’s cheaper.  They’ll just need a way to find that talent.  BINGO!

Competition, I embrace thee!

Competition, I embrace thee! 

Martin, one of the HTR Launchpad leaders, sent me this link that shows one our of our competitors getting top dollar funding out in San Francisco.

A few months ago, I might have freaked out.   But I’m actually pleased to know that there’s someone out there in the same space, especially that it’s a relatively new space in the education software industry.

If Coke and Pepsi can do it, so can we.  Even then, we have our little secret weapon. Bring it folks!

Distress signals on Twitter…send ’em!

Time to start being creative about finding custies. Tonight I got on twitter and wrote this:

“Anyone know any college admissions officers that would be kind enough to talk to a humble ed-tech startup? I’ll send cookies! #edchat#edtech

I’m not desperate yet so I figured sending cookies would be nice.  Well, I’m not sure if I’m serious about sending cookies quite yet but thought it would get someone’s attention. I’ll wait and see if any admission officers reach out.

Hashtags are always nice: For us #edtech, #edchat, and #socent are helpful tags that belong to pretty big communities.  For anyone out there tweeting a distress signal, make sure you know your twitter hashtags.

P.S.  A shout-out to Deb Rossen-Knill from HTR Launchpad for connecting me to the U of R and some pretty influential folks who are interested in portfolios. This is what it’s all about!   *Stirring the pot* Onward!

Following Dropbox’s footsteps….

Since taking third place at Rochester’s Startup Weekend last year, we’ve been through quite a few iterations and mini pivots.

Here’s one of our first MVP’s…..a plain video that cost us less than $50 to make and got us on the radar in the ed-tech startup world. Not joking about the $50 either in case any entrepreneurs want to know how to make cheap MVP videos…. 🙂