Studor at Summer Launchpad: Going All In

Michael Stromer (CAS '16) was born and raised in New York City. This fall, he will run the NYC Marathon. He loves working with innovative startups and aims to deepen his skills as an entrepreneur and leader. He is an iOS and web developer at Studor, which connects students and tutors on campus.

The most difficult times for any business involves getting started. New York University has launched an apprenticeship system for student entrepreneurs for exactly this reason. NYU's Summer Launchpad is an excellent segue for students to engage with mentors' startups in our technology-driven world.

Heading into it's 3rd summer, the NYU Summer Launchpad invites ten teams of students and postgrads to build startup ideas. The mission is to revamp an idea using the latest technology, or invent a completely new service over the summer in order to maintain sustainable startups. During their initial meeting, a team of lawyers from McCarter and English briefed the teams on how to jump through the legal hoops. The team’s ideas so far have since ranged from biotech to freelancing and community-based apps.

NYU Summer Launchpad is proud to follow in the footsteps of Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator, an apprenticeship system that provides funding, advice and mentorship to young tech entrepreneurs. It has since become one of the most successful tech incubators in the world, worth over $4B, with a portfolio of over two hundred companies including Dropbox, Reddit, Airbnb.

 "The world of startups is so unpredictable that you need to be able to modify your dreams on the fly." - Paul Graham

Paul Graham used his programming skills in Lisp to create ViaWeb, the first online store. Back in 1998 ViaWeb was bought by Yahoo! for $49M. Graham then invested in ten new startup ideas, which would grow with Y-Combinator's success. On his website, Graham details how Y-Combinator evaluates founders.

Day one of the NYU Summer Launchpad began on June 3rd, 2015. As a member of Studor, my team is looking to connect students with tutors on campus. We look forward to launching a hands-on learning experience.

The first week of Launchpad has been intense as we have gained more insight and experience. We have already met a fleet of lawyers, investors, and entrepreneurs. Our group of ten teams hosts a wide demographic and as summer kick starts into gear we have already begun building.

Today, my most insightful interview came from a basketball game. Playing another guy roughly my size, it was made clear I had nothing on him. During the game he mentioned his tutoring business. I of course had many questions for him, ranging from how long he had been tutoring, and how he finds customers, to just what his name
was. I discovered his name was Ben, and Ben teaches any subject in the high school level. He meets families with precocious kids, and is referred to them for private tutoring. Ben had an intensity about his business, on and off the court. He offered me some interesting advice on the tutoring world: "You ever play poker?" He asked. "When you buy in with $5 and someone raises you $1, then you gotta call that bet. If students are willing to pay $50,000 for tuition, then maybe they're willing to spend $10,000 on tutors." No doubt it was a high-stakes bet. We would need some of the highest quality tutors available.

All startups are contingent upon risks. It only seems fair to start playing with high-roller investors. So now, as the Launchpad rolls into July, we have gone too far not to go all in. The Launchpad is more than a game, it's a countdown to build something from nothing. What that something is, is based on how many perspectives one can fit together. So far we have enough perspectives to embody New York's diverse metropolis. The team will unveil their startup in August to a crowd of investors, with so many mentors and industry leaders this has been an incredible initiative.

Meet some of NYU's top startups and founders, including Michael, at the Summer Launchpad Venture Showcase. RSVP here!