What are you passionate about? Chances are if you’re a college student there are other students on campus that share your passion and collaborating could make your projects come together. Before the world of online platforms a college student with a side project, or that wanted to tackle an issue with a club, would post something on the bulletin board. From there they would get responses, presumably by phone, note or even email. Next, the students would meet and have to weed out those that were serious and could really contribute, and those who just want to be involved in something.
Enter Sam Hicks and his startup University Passion.
Collaborative platforms are nothing new. There are a ton of collaboration tools out there for almost every special interest. But, nothing out there is addressing college students, while they are college students. Sure there are students using cofounderslab and other platforms to get a jumpstart on startups but within the closed communities of campus there’s nothing out there.
Hicks is a marine biologist by trade and education. He’s an extremely bright guy and was able to get to the finals in TechWildcatters. The young entrepreneur from Mississippi left his home state the day before college graduation to head to Dallas because of their startup scene.
Check out our interview with Hicks below.
What is your startup, what does it do?
University Passion is a cloud based collaboration platform for student projects that creates a dynamic e-portfolio for college employers…
There are lots of interesting possible features: The website will contain a lot of valuable data about student projects, skills, education majors. Etc. I envision a web platform that could leverage the data of college student’s academia validation through projects.
A unique collaboration platform that connects students from across the globe to help complete projects – whether they’re building, brainstorming, or expanding a business.
Here’s a quick overview of how, the cloud based platform looks like:
Who are The Founders and What are Their Backgrounds?
Sam Hicks, Founder and CEO of University Passion, a student by occupation, an entrepreneur by profession, graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and started a custom aquarium business known as, Pristine Aquatics LLC.
Sam is a chemist, and biologist who know everything about marine life like the back of his hand; he’s a small business guru, tenacious salesman, and social media addict. His skills and experience earned him a $2,000 grant proposal from a world recognized and nationally known College in the States.
His passion for salesmanship earned him a top spot as the best salesman in his firm. As an entrepreneur, he believes in, passion, determination, persistence, and ACTION.
Chris Greene is a computer nerd, writer, and webmaster for the University of Southern Mississippi Student Printz newspaper. He’s an avid blogger and drupal developer who loves using programming languages to help spread the knowledge and make it free for many to access it.
If he’s not writing programming languages, he can be found hanging out with friends and giving lives a meaning…
Where are you based?
I love hanging out mostly in Mississippi and Dallas, Texas.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Dallas is a beautiful city with a very affordable cost of living for growing startups. Since my early days in College, I’ve had the passion of participating in the Tech Wildcatters Spring 2013 class but I never knew I’d come out as a finalist.
In fact, University Passion was invited as a finalist to pitch to 30 perceptive Investors in the spring class of nationally recognized Techwildcatters.
Tech Wildcatters is a mentorship driven micro-seed fund and startup accelerator. Founding teams endure a three-month accelerator program ranked by Forbes as top 10 in the USA, and boasting a 4% acceptance rate. Learn more: http://techwilcatters.com/
The founder of Launch DFW, Alex Muse and the Co-founder of Shop savvy have been supportive; every month, they host successful tech entrepreneurs which gives us the opportunity to network and work hand in hand with over 100 techies.
Dallas universities are blessed with geniuses for interns and co-founders; few can be found in Southern Methodist University, and University of Texas at Dallas, Art of Institute.
Dallas is endowed with thriving startup communities such as Austin and Houston Texas.
What problem does your startup solve?
Like I said earlier, there has been no platform with good interface that makes networking among students easy. University Passion is the first of its kind!
Students normally find it challenging recording their academia experiences in efforts to become marketable to employers but with the University Passion cloud based platform, they find it easy to create and keep portfolio’s.
University Passion wants to inspire College students to make a living doing what they love and create businesses that support their passions. As a result of this, University Passion have produced remarkable College students who’re now making impact in their campuses.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Getting the validation of the first customer was a big challenge.
We have to develop the minimum viable product first, beta test it and address the issues. It has been an exciting journey so far; it’s an overwhelming experience when someone validates your company’s product which you helped grow from inception.
What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?
We’re excited that Colleges and education institutions appreciate this platform; we’ve received over 100,000 responses from universities, which has geared us to take advantage of the niche market.
We’ve also partnered with 4 universities to launch the University Passion on their campuses.
We’ve pitched technology giants like: Tech Stars, Tech Wildcatters, and Kaplan and we’ve received positive feedbacks on the usability of the networking platform.
What are your next milestones?
Like every other growing startup, developing a strong technical and web development team has been our top priority. We’re also working on building connections and expanding the University Passion platform.
Who are your mentors and role models?
I’m a ‘’do it all alone’’ person, but I’ll always be grateful to Tech Wildcatters teams, program manager and the startups who’ve been solidly behind me.
Under30CEO has always made my day by delivering great contents.
Role Models: Steve Jobs has always been my mentor since my teenage years; here’s one of his favorite quote that always make my day:
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing’’
Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Aristotle Onassis are also in my ‘’book of mentors’’.
What are some of the advantages/disadvantages growing your startup outside of Silicon Valley.
I don’t believe that the success of my business is in a location; I don’t believe one has to be in Silicon Valley to be successful. In fact, I’ve never been to Silicon Valley (though, I’ve heard that the streets are paved with gold); but I’ve witnessed startups scale and grow in other cities.
A businessman is like a man on a mission; if you allow the location of a place tie your business growth, you won’t go far in business; but if you’re hardworking and determined to face business challenges, you’d definitely succeed (even without being in Silicon Valley).
What’s next for your startup?
We believe in the possibility of a bright firm; and we’re constantly working hard to ensure that University Passion becomes a NO 1 cloud collaboration platform for college students.
Presently, we’re investing our time and resources in networking with other startups and upgrading the University passion platform.
Where can people find out more, and what is your Twitter username?
This young woman from Memphis took her startup from a 48 Hour Launch event to the finals for Black Entreprise’s Elevator Pitch Competition.