Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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The age old question is answered

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 6:09 pm

So this past weekend 4 our of the 5 partners, our bosses, left for China on a product development trip and we wont be seeing them for the remainder of the internship. Due to the fact that we aren’t going to see them again, the company had a meeting where the interns and the owners sat down and just talked. We talked about many things but one theme that was talked about more than others was making the most out of college. The partners ages range from 26-29 and they all graduated from either Bowdoin, Yale or University of Vermont. Their biggest regret about college was not pushing themselves to learn more. Let me repeat myself. Learning. They didn’t say grades. They didn’t say lacrosse. They didn’t say going out. They said learning. Because they didn’t pay much attention to learning new things, they are having to go back an relearn information they should know. For example, they had to learn the chemistry behind yarns for new mesh but they didn’t know anything about it. They had to take time out of their day to watch khan academy videos about chemistry instead of working on other more important things. This answers the age old question that every student ever asks themselves daily and that is “when will I ever need to know this?”

The Chudly Effect

Friday, July 17, 2015 6:57 pm

The office culture revolves around one theme and one theme only: The Chudly Effect. The effect is kind of hard to describe but bear with me. We all know that there are times in a office where you can get sidetracked by a youtube video, a piece of candy, or pictures of Martha’s Vineyard. In addition these times can lead to a decrease in productivity which causes people to produce work at a 5/10 level instead of a 10/10. So when someone sees this happening they give out the Chudly call, which is really just a high pitched squeal, and this causes people to realize that we have veered too far off task and need to get back to work. It’s really a good way to keep people focused without ruining any of the good vibes.

The effect derives it’s name from on of the employee’s hall mates in college. He said that while Chudly is a great human being, he had many flaws which ultimately led to him dropping out of college and becoming a computer software salesman for the last 5 years. We must always avoid the Chudly effect in order to maintain a good work environment.

The effect has turned into the culture of the office. The office throws around the word Chudly in a variety of ways and here are a few examples…

“That report is looking a little too big, so cut off some of the Chudly and bring it back to me”

“Quit Chudding around or else we will be here for another 5 hours”

“You look a little Chudly, are you feeling alright?”

We have managed to organize the bad into one theme, which not only contributes to productivity but also to the camaraderie of the office.

The Chudly culture is very important at a small company because it keeps everyone focused on the task at hand. Small companies don’t have the luxury of moving slowly so whenever I finish something for my boss, there isn’t a revision session or a peer review. This working environment should be a reflection of how culture should be within a company because you work as a team to finish the task at hand. By keeping The Chudly Effect at bay we are able to get rid of the 5/10’s and contribute in ways that make everyone at the company proud.

“Cheesy Blog Title”

Saturday, July 4, 2015 12:08 am

At StringKing we are pretty deep into quite a few projects. The shaft study is making headway and we are starting to see relationships between weight and flex of the shaft with accuracy and speed. We have given our tape specifications to a company in China and should have prototypes by the beginning of next week. We built the pocket mapping machine and went through about twenty different heads and sent our results to a company in India for analysis. Andd…..lets be honest you don’t care about my projects and I will forget about them in under a year, so on to more important things.

We left work yesterday, Thursday July 2nd, thinking that it was the start of the weekend because if July 4th is on a Saturday then July 3rd is a holiday. We were assured by HR that there would be no work on Friday so we decided to go out and have some “gatorades.” We had a pretty rough week at work so people were drinking the gatorade pretty quickly. We are all sitting around having fun when our phones rang at the same time. It was a message from the founder of the company ordering us to work early the next morning. This does not bode well with the interns in our gatorade state of mind and some pretty absurd suggestions were thrown out about how to get out of work. Fortunately the voice of reason prevailed and we set our alarms for early the next day. We woke up feeling like we drank beer instead of gatorade. No one said a word throughout breakfast and the drive to work because we are all tired, groggy, pissed, and on the verge of displaying the contents of last nights meal. Upon arriving to the office we were tasked with the most tedious and physically demanding work. When we get about four hours in to our task clarity hits me like a freight train. I look over to my left and the founder is doing the exact same work i’m doing. He’s getting down and dirty to get the project done and not off on the beach and tanning. He’s at work when he doesn’t have to be and doing things he doesn’t want to do. This is when I discovered that this is what it takes to be successful. You have to be willing to work not only when no one else is but when you have absolutely no desire to put in the time and effort. If you want to be the best this is how you do it. It’s a lesson I will remember for the rest of my life.

All startups start in basements or garages

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 10:03 pm

This company was started by two cousins who went to the same high school. They both played lacrosse in college, one was a goalie at Bowdin and one a defenseman at Yale. The company idea started because they wanted to discover and replicate the perfect pocket for a stick in lacrosse. A perfect pocket would throw the same way each time exactly how you wanted it. They started in a basement where they began to research how the pocket interacted with the head and discovered that the problem was not with the head or the stringing of the pocket; it was with the mesh. Next they began to research mesh to find out what it is made of using simple middle school science experiment. They came to the conclusion that the mesh everyone was using was absolutely terrible because it varied so much piece to piece. They decided they could make better mesh and the idea blossomed from there. They started a program called Ustring, which taught simply taught people how to string their heads. After, they designed and created their own mesh and began to sell it to retailers and players. Next, they saw that the shaft market was sub par and decided to design shafts. They also looked into the tape players use on shafts and thought we could make a better tape. It’s really amazing what a small idea has blossomed into.

They have had their fair share of growing pains because they build from the ground up. Everything you can imagine they have dealt with from funding to space to personnel. What makes them different is that they anticipate problems and that’s how they have managed to survive thus far. For example, a lacrosse company called Warrior tries to sue all companies that come out with competing merchandise. Warrior does this because they are backed by New Balance and can spend 500,000 dollars on a law suit. Many small companies won’t survive the lawsuit because they don’t have the funding. Where StringKing differs is the fact that they have anticipated this and have but aside enough money to deal with these people. The lesson here is that it pays to anticipate the problems.

I’m not at liberty to disclose that information

Friday, June 19, 2015 10:02 pm

Where to start, where to start? So i’m working for a start up lacrosse company called StringKing in Los Angeles, California. Since its a start up company, the facilities are what most people would call stark, but I think they are perfect. We have a spacious warehouse with giant 30 foot garage doors and the space is divided into four areas. One area is for production and that’s where we string heads and package products. Not really my area of expertise, so I don’t spend much time there. The next area is our work station and its where everyone sits on the same giant table. We spend time here coming up with ideas for products, watching lacrosse games, icing each other, and general shenanigans. The other area is my second favorite area which I have affectionately dubbed “The Laboratory of Destruction”(TM). In this section of the warehouse we get to smash, break, pull, push, and, last but certainly not least, DESTROY everything. We have a machine, the destructor, that slams lacrosse shafts into each other at high speeds. We have an extensometer which pulls and pushes to measure how much force it takes to break things. In the laboratory we test everything from the tensile strength of strings to flex response of shafts to adhesiveness of tape to mapping how a ball leaves a pocket. Pretty much everything I love about physics. The fourth area, my favorite, is a 30×20 yard caged area that has turf, goals, and every combination of shafts and heads imaginable. Its like being that fat kid in Willy Wonka when he gets to the giant candy forest (the old Willy Wonka not that recent one which is a sad excuse for a film). It’s the greatest place in the world, look it up. There really is a fifth area of the office and that’s where all the accounting, finance, and HR are stationed. I have a policy to never step foot in there without dark sunglasses, noise cancelling headphones, and an oxygen mask. Went in there once and had some seriously dark thoughts.

Personnel wise it’s a very diverse company. We have Ivy League alumni, division 3 lacrosse players, MLL players, high school kids, college drop outs, and everything in between. Everyone has their responsibilities and duties but everyone works together. No egos get away and we are very goal oriented.

For projects we are doing a couple different things which are vital to the company when we release our heads and shafts in September. In our shot study project we are testing the effect that different heads and shafts have on shot speed and accuracy. Another project is mapping how a ball comes out of head in order to further understand how the head, ball, and mesh interact during passes and shots. We also have 5 more projects but i’m not allowed to disclose what they are about or there results because of competitors.

Straight Outta Compton

Saturday, June 13, 2015 3:22 am

Seeing as this is my first post it would be a good idea to give a synopsis of how I ended up working at a startup lacrosse company in Compton, California (yes THAT Compton). At the beginning of my Junior year at Wake, I thought that it was time to get serious with my life and find a “professional” internship. It seemed like the correct thing to do because that’s just what you do, I think. I mean that’s what all my friends are doing, that’s what the school wants me to do, and that’s definitely what my parents want me to do. It’s all part of the plan; get good grades in high school, go to a top college, get a good internship, get a job from that internship, move up the employment latter, right?

I’m majoring in Physics with minors in History and Mathematics so it made sense for me to do something science related. I also worked at an oil rig in Texas last year and have always thought the Gas and Energy Sector was interesting. I began to pay attention to the markets and read what a job in that area was like. I applied to a few companies and ended up getting an interview for a analyst job with a Pittsburgh based fracking company. I did everything you were supposed to do for an interview and left that day with an offer in hand. Wow the second half of junior year was going to be easy because my summer was secure. Ha Nope.

My father is an intense reader and always gives us books on Christmas. This year he gave me a book called Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz. I thought that it would be another lame book but this was different. This book talked about how colleges have started to suppress the individuality of their students and mass produce workers who follow the rules but don’t question them. Every college student struggles to define who they are but this question is something I really struggled with. During my sophomore and into my junior year I really couldn’t tell you who I was as a person because I was so focused on getting good grades and doing the “right” thing that I lost my individuality. It was a struggle to get through this and I almost left Wake at one point because of it. Due to my situation this book really resonated and lit a fire under me to make my own path. After reading Excellent Sheep, I decided it was time to do something different.

I negotiated with the fracking company so that I could accept or reject their offer at the end of February. This gave me time to think of something for the summer. After brainstorming I came to the realization that people learn most about themselves when travelling. I choose the farthest and most different place imaginable; Thailand. It’s foreign, majestic, and, most of all, far far away. The problem here is that, as a college student, my bank account only has one zero. It seemed like the trip wasn’t going to happen because the budget was at least 8000 dollars.

Yet, not all hope was lost. I was in one of my buddies dorm rooms’ making an elaborate scheme to find a suga momma that could fund my trip, but my friend suggested something easier (shoutout to Bennito on that one). There is something called a Richter Scholarship, which funds student international research trips and the maximum amount available 10,000! The problem is that in order to get the scholarship you had to research something. It was imperative that Thailand was the destination, so I had to find something in Thailand to research. After reading everything about Thailand, I decided to research Buddhism because it was interesting and sounded the most “researchy”. In order to complete the research proposal I enlisted the help of the best professor to ever teach at Wake Forest, Dr. Casey Wasserman. We spent hours and hours reading research books, journals, and articles so we could create the best proposal. We decided to research the Theravada branch of Buddhism with emphasis on the 8 noble truths and the noble eightfold path. We put together a stellar proposal and got a nod from the head of the fund that “It was more than likely to get accepted”. The problem is that the results of the scholarship didn’t come out till March and I had to tell the fracking company my decision at the end of February. I said screw it, decided to roll the die, and rejected the offer because I was certain my proposal was going to get accepted. Thailand was going to happen!

“HAHA”-God

Flat out rejected. Like full blown “Thanks but no thanks.” Livid doesn’t even reach the boundaries of my anger at that point in time. The words coming out of my mouth probably secured my spot in hell (I will let you know how that ends up). So whats the most logical thing to do when you’re angry? Go to the Pit (looking back not really sure why I went to the pit, probably wanted Netta to comfort me). One of my good friends, Dolla Dolla Mills, happen to be at the Pit and he put up with my string of four letter words. But then this conversation happened… (I cleaned it up for our PG audience)

Me-“You know what, I’m done with this school. I wish that there was something I could do that combined Physics and Lacrosse. That would be perfect for me”

Dolla- “Hey man my brothers roommate just started a lacrosse company in LA and they are looking for engineers and physicists to work on their product development team”

Me-“…”

Dolla’s brother introduced me via email to the founder who is a 28 year old engineer who played lacrosse in college. We talked shop for a little bit and I sent him my resume. They said that I would work directly with the product development team designing heads and shafts. The expectation is to have a working prototype at the end of the summer. They asked me if I was willing to learn about plastic injection molding along with motion physics, in their warehouse in Compton, and work 60 hour weeks. I said of course because this is exactly what I want to do! They asked me if I would work and not get paid. Well this provided a little bit of a predicament because my bank account is very close to a single goose egg. Once again I decided to say screw it because this is an awesome opportunity and if I have to eat peanut butter and live in a tent then so be it.

Once again I was talking to my friends about my situation, in the Pit no less, and one of them (Chillie) suggested the Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows Program. My Thinkpad was out in a second and decided this is would be perfect! Then I looked at the due date, T-minus 8 hours, and there were a few more four letter words. The proposal was turned in half an hour before it was due and by some miracle they agreed to give me money!

I sit back and look at this experience and just scratch my head. Just getting to this point has been an unbelievable learning experience. The amount of cheesy, inspirational, attention grabbing facebook quotes I could make out this is beyond fathomable. But this experience is MY experience, it is not your experience. Whatever I say to you means nothing to you but everything to me. So, go break the mold and find your own damn experience because this one is mine. So i’m going to keep working at a startup lacrosse company in the heart of Compton because sometimes you just have to say “Fuck it we are doing it live”

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