Kyle Yang (Stern MBA '21), founder of War Locker, a startup that is re-designing the athletic cup, recently completed the NYU Startup Bootcamp program. To give prospective Bootcampers a participant's perspective on the program, we asked Kyle some questions about his journey, his startup, and his experience in the Startup Bootcamp! Interested in testing the value of your ideas and validating (or invalidating!) the problem you are hoping to solve for your target customer? Read on to find out how you can push your startup idea to the limit!
NYU Entrepreneurial Institute: Introduce yourself and your startup idea. How did the idea come about?
Kyle Yang: I grew up in Taiwan, and moved to Boston when I was 13. One of the first things I did to assimilate to American culture was playing football. I played as a lineman during my freshman year in high school, and it was then that I first noticed the wide unpopularity of the athletic cup, aka "jockstrap" among football players. About 3 years ago, I had a recollection of that memory, and I decided to redesign this urgently needed yet poorly designed gear. Thus, War Locker was born.
Institute: How long have you been working on your startup? How did you get to where you are now?
Yang: I started 3 years ago, and I'm now ready to launch the product (A3 Jock) and working on a go to market strategy. I also have 2 other patent pending fitness products in the pipeline under the same brand. Prior to attending NYU Stern for my MBA, I worked as a commercial real estate consultant, and I basically invested whatever savings I had from my day job to hire a patent lawyer and industrial engineer to get started.
Institute: How did you hear about the Startup Bootcamp? What made you apply?
Yang: I just started the MBA program 2 months ago, so I am still trying to balance school with War Locker. Before I officially launch, I'm also trying to learn from as many mentors at NYU and use as many entrepreneurship resources as possible, and the Startup Bootcamp is one of those resources. I learned about it through the Leslie eLab, given I had been to a few other Leslie eLab events as well. I found them to be very insightful and engaging, so I decided to apply to the Bootcamp.
Institute: Describe the Startup Bootcamp to someone who doesn't know it. What is it actually like, from a participant perspective? What is the structure like? How does it feel to be a part of it/go through it?
Yang: I would describe it as partly an entrepreneurship seminar that teaches you the essential strategic thinking processes in a lean startup context and partly a critical cross-examination of your potential business' value proposition. The Bootcamp made me feel much more clear and precise on who my early adopters and early enthusiasts are for my product; this was accomplished by forcing me to go out into the field and speak directly to potential target customers and ask them questions that reveal the values, wants, and needs that my product should be capturing for them. Thus, the structure was very engaging, given each team had to present their findings and be asked the critical questions every startup needs to answer before launching.
Institute: What were you most looking forward to in the Startup Bootcamp? What did you find most valuable about the experience, looking back on it once it was over?
Yang: There is certainly a long list of successful NYU ventures, so I was mostly looking forward to meeting the other entrepreneurs on campus! Looking back, I think the most valuable part was certainly what I learned about my potential venture and who I met and got coaching from.
Institute: Prior to the Startup Bootcamp, had you interacted with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute at all? Had you been to the Leslie eLab? Had you participated in any NYU entrepreneurship programs or events?
Yang: Yes! I had an appointment with Danny Lafuente from the W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs about 3 weeks ago. I also came to the anniversary kick-off event at the Leslie eLab and attended the Startup School workshop held by Justin Silver from Aavrani.
Institute: What are your next steps now? What are you and your startup up to?
Yang: Figuring out the logistics of shipping my products upon launching, trying to convince my lawyer to start invoicing me much later on, and preparing for the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge pitch!
Institute: What would you like to say to others who are considering starting a startup or participating in the Startup Bootcamp with a startup they are already working on?
Yang: Definitely apply! You will learn important things that every business needs to answer. At the end of the day, a business requires public validation and adoption to survive. This Bootcamp will be a good starting point for you to start figuring that process out.
If you have any other questions regarding the NYU Startup Bootcamp program, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!