Entrepreneurship Updates

Presenting Tufts Blue Key

Blue Key FlyerSometimes finding the best stuff at Tufts can be hard since there’s so much of it! We know that entering the world that is college can be a bit scary (we were there too!). Choosing classes, navigating the social scene, getting involved on campus – it can get overwhelming.

So Tufts Entrepreneurs Society made Blue Keys.

Blue Keys are a group of Tufts students who welcome freshmen to school. Freshmen in the program are paired with an upperclassmen with similar interests to make the transition to Tufts as easy as possible by being a reliable connection and showing them the ropes.

We’re pairing up wonderful first-years with eager upperclassmen who want to help you reach reach new decisions, get insider advice on the coolest professors, find ‘your crew’, find the best parties, and greatest opportunities at Tufts. They come from all parts of campus: engineers, fraternity brothers, varsity athletes, art enthusiasts, hip-hop dancers, you name it.

So, most of all, we’d love to have you join! If you’re a freshman or returning student, all you have to do is fill out this form with your interests, and we’ll take care of the rest. (http://bit.ly/Lqg04x)

If you have any questions email tuftsEsociety@gmail.com

Apps In House Presents Meep

Tufts’ own Foster Lockwood describes his company Apps in House and his new app Meep

The basic idea for Meep actually came from a conversation I was having with my girlfriend. I was complaining that even when the iPhone is a great innovation in many fields of technology, I still felt like checking my voicemail was a hassle, as me and my father had been playing phone tag earlier that day. “Why isn’t there a quick and easy way to just send an audio message to someone?” I remember one of us saying.

It’s questions like this that seem to drive the entrepreneurial world that I’ve been a part of, and so far I’ve noticed that the richer questions have much more interesting solutions.

Since I’m actually working as an independent contractor for small start-ups this summer writing iOS Apps (http://www.appsinhouse.com) of course my solution would be an iPhone application. It started as a side project and quickly turned into an obsession, one that other programmers and developers I’m sure are familiar with.

I believe that a significant amount of the communication we take part in is forced to be made in a medium that doesn’t lend itself to that particular communiqué. That is the complicated abstract. Examples are much better for explaining in this case. Say you and a friend commonly text back and forth (presumably using Apple’s iMessage App) and one day you hear a song on the radio that you two had just been discussing. Instead of texting “Hey, that song just came on the radio!”, wouldn’t it be cool to have a way to just hold a button and send an audio clip (when the song is playing) to your friend instead? Circumventing any ambiguity that texting too often carries, this audio message would appear right in the thread that you and your friend had been conversing in previously. With one tap he could instantly listen to what you had just listened to.

Now, of course, most messaging applications these days allow you to send text, pictures, or video (in media messages). Texts leave little to be innovated with, but media messages seem to have some implicitly bad reputation. How amazing is it that we can send a video we take to a friend of ours? But have you ever sent one? I haven’t, and I don’t think the reason is that I don’t have the motivation to record something to send to a friend. I’ve tried my best to make sending any Meep message as simple as sending a text, with as few taps as possible.

Along those lines, a neat little last minute feature that I’ve implemented is the location Meep. This requires no text input at all, and is hoping to replace all of those texts reading, “I’m here.” “I’m outside in my car”, and give an easy way to respond to any iteration of, “Where are you?” With one tap, you can send your current location to the other user. They get a location Meep (again in the same thread) which they can tap on and see a map with a pin marking where the other user is. Instead of trying to describe your surrounds via text, or even sending a picture from your vantage point, why not just send your actual location.

Creating an appropriate pricing scheme is an interesting dilemma in this project. It can’t be subscription based because it must avoid being like a telephone contract, but in order to be scalable it might  have to avoid the one time payment system. I have a lot more research/math to do before I can make a final decision. But one thing is for sure, the App will be free to download and install, and every free user will get a large monthly quota of meeps before they would need to pay.

Lastly, I am hoping the name raises a few eyebrows, but if you’re curious the inspiration came from the Muppet named Beaker. The only word he ever says is “meep.” All he can do is change his pitch and tone to facilitate communication with the other muppets. In a ways, this is how I feel sometimes when communicating with the tools currently at my disposal. I hope the Meep App will raise people out of their routine of communicating in difficult ways, especially when they may not realize it. This may be an unrealistic expectation, but I think it’s something worth pursuing.

Albert Nichols: President

Hi! I’m Albert Nichols, a senior at Tufts majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Engineering School.  As a freshman and sophomore I was a member of the Sailing team.  I worked as an early employee at startup Abine during my sophomore year while pursuing ELS and conducting research in the online privacy space.  I currently work at IBM working in the Center for Social Business.  Right now I am President of TES.

I’m dedicated to creating the best environment at Tufts for classmates interested in ideas bigger than themselves and those who are motivated to create a better world.  Come join us! Come by a meeting, join in on a talk, or just email tuftsEsociety@gmail.com if you’re interested in getting involved.

Ali Jutha: External Communication

Hi! I’m a junior at Tufts University in Fall 2012 and will be continuing to double major in International Relations and Economics.

My entrepreneurial interest stems from experiences swing trading the foreign exchange markets. I lead Trading Hour – a weekly meeting where TES members communally understand how financial markets evolve and share trading techniques.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions about finance or trading!

Kate Hitchner: Vice President

Kate is senior studying International Relations and Economics. In addition to TES, she is a mentor for the Tufts chapter of Compass Partners, an organization that exposes college freshmen to the world of social entrepreneurship. She has worked in a range of environments including an archaeological excavation in France, a non-profit (Project on Justice in Times of Transition), and most recently in a start-up incubator/venture capitalist company in Cambridge. In her free time, Kate likes to get outside to run, bike, hike, climb, and sail!

This year I’ll be organizing a lot of the club and how Exec board operates.  If you’re interested in joining exec board, or just want to talk about TES drop a line! I’d love to talk to you.

Brett Fischler: Events

My name is Brett, and I’m a sophomore engineer at Tufts. My hobbies have changed a lot over the last few years, but primarily, my favorite things to do are play tennis, write music, play guitar and piano, and spend time with my friends and family. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur has always intrigued me, and I’m hoping that between my interest in engineering and my participation in TES, I’ll eventually be able to invent a product and create some kind of successful business around it. That way, if I’m lucky enough to be asked back as a guest speaker at some TES meeting a long time from now, I’ll be able to inspire the members the same way that some past speakers have already inspired me.

This year I’ll be organizing a lot of the great events we throw every year.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to reach out to me!

Andrew Carp: Internal Coordinator

Hi! I’m Andrew Carp, a sophomore Electrical Engineer from Silicon Valley with an interest in ELS and social entrepreneurship. I worked as a Business Development Intern for an MIT based startup called Greenbean Recycle during Spring of 2012, and right now I’m attempting to take a dive into owning a few patents. At the moment, I’m the Internal Communications Director for TES, a brother in Zeta Beta Tau, an avid hiker/backpacker, and a chaser on the Quidditch Team.

I’ll be running all internal communications for TES this year so if you get an email, it’s from me! Email tuftsEsociety@gmail.com if you want to be added to the e list.  Also, check out our meetings!

Alpine Hammock, A Jumbo Creation

For all you outdoor fanatics, Jumbo entrepreneurs are at it again. Tufts Alums Mike Brown E’10 and Ryan Stolp E’10 designed what they’re calling the “Alpine Hammock”. More than your average backyard hammock, their patent-pending invention provides comfort and weather protection in almost any outdoor weather condition. It is constructed with waterproof nylon, waterproof zippers, waterproof-breathable fabric and no-see-um bug netting.

Before we get on with more details, get yourself over to kickstarter ASAP to support these guys.

Both Mike and Ryan are NUTS for the outdoors.  Having put in some serious trail time they came up with this great product that really fills in a void in the outdoor gear world.  Check it out, these two are for sure making waves in the outdoor industry.  Here are some snippets from their press release.

“It combines the best qualities of both hammocks and bivy sacks (read: one-man minimalist shelter), allowing you to stay protected in outdoor environments both with and without trees,” says Brown.  It features clever designs such as a built-in bug net and rainfly, making it convenient, comfortable and lightweight which are typical tradeoffs when choosing between backpacking hammocks, bivy sacks, and one-man tents.

A dream come true for fast and light outdoor travelers?  Yes, but, without the funds to take their project to the next level it might take years before their product can leave their makeshift (read: basement) gear lab.

After attending Tufts University, one of the most expensive schools in the nation, Mike and Ryan realized that their looming student debt would require them to put their Alpine Hammock project on hold until they could raise the funds to produce the one-man shelter.  Determined to push the concept forward, they continued to tweak the design through numerous prototypes, from a proof of concept prototype to a fully functional, technical outdoor shelter. However, “being responsible for paying our ways through college makes it almost impossible to finance this project on our own,” says Stolp.  This is why they’ve decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to try and crowd-source the $30,000 necessary to continue design work, to enter a more robust gear testing phase, and to produce their Alpine Hammock at a larger scale.

Kickstarter campaigns operate under an “all-or-nothing” funding model so if the Alpine Hammock project doesn’t reach it’s goal at the end of 30 days then it Brown and Stolp go home empty-handed. Be sure to follow them on Twitter (@AlpineHammock) and Facebook to follow their progress and make sure to spread the word to your social media networks.  Consider donating as little as $1 to help their project come to life.  If you decide to donate more, you might be among the first in the world to travel in the outdoors with an Alpine Hammock.