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The Startup: Peeramid is a mobile app that takes evidence-based learning to the peer level so students no longer face the overwhelm of college alone. Students connect and learn on their own time to navigate the high demands of higher education by developing appropriate self-help and sufficiency skills that are goal-oriented.
The Founders: Megan Fricke (Tandon ‘22) and Vivi Wei (CAS ‘22)
Motivated heavily by her own mental health journey, Megan Fricke launched the startup Peeramid in 2022 to help college students combat overwhelming isolation and prioritize wellness.
Fricke battled late-diagnosed and untreated dyslexia, ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, and OCD for many years without access to adequate mental healthcare services. As her graduate studies exacerbated her symptoms, she began seeing a therapist and utilizing NYU’s academic accommodation resources. But she remained well aware of the importance of having self-sufficiency skills to cope with challenges.
In the summer of 2022, Fricke became a venture fellow with the NYU Tandon Future Labs and began building a platform to help others navigate their mental health during college. Last September, Fricke met Vivi Wei at a team hunt at the Leslie eLab. Wei, who had experience as a startup founder in the past, joined Peeramid as co-founder and CTO.
The duo went on to participate in the 2023 J-Term Startup Sprint and continue working to make their startup's mission a reality.
Below, Fricke and Wei share more about their founder journeys and inspirations. (Responses have been edited for clarity.)
Q: When and how did you first become interested in entrepreneurship?
MF: In April 2022, as Vadim Gordin, director of the NYU Tandon Future Labs, gave his presentation during my Biomedical Engineering colloquium course with Professor Andreas H. Hielscher. I’d never resonated with a personal feeling more. I’d never once thought about entrepreneurship, let alone venture capital, before this moment. As a kid, though, I always had a fascination with "what could be" and creative outlets.
VW: In 7th grade, I read a biography on Steve Jobs. It was a very inspiring book. There was a part when Steve and his friend got their first product and he invited him for a car ride on the highway and just asked him: "How about we start a company?" I thought that was so cool.
Q: How did your experience in the Startup Sprint transform the way you’re approaching your venture?
MF: The Startup Sprint really set a foundation of key aspects which are necessary for any venture — and in two weeks at that! Vivi and I not only grew as founders and as a business, but also as individuals and colleagues, too. Every day you’re encompassed within the entrepreneurial spirit and community, which is a really amazing energy to experience. I think holding that similar grind, feedback, and structure that the Startup Sprint taught us has really helped us since the Sprint concluded.
VW: It provided us with a nice theoretical system structure to support our experiments and hypotheses.
Q: What advice would you give students who are considering pursuing entrepreneurship?
MF: Show up in real life any chance you get. Some times are more difficult than others, but showing up and making those connections and learning are really the backbone throughout your journey
VW: Being wrong is inevitable. But do it early and fast.
Q: Tips for juggling being a startup founder and student at the same time?
MF: Use the resources available to you while you’re a student! NYU has a ton, not to mention all that NYC has to offer. Always, always listen to your body and put your mental wellness and fitness first.
VW: Always know your priorities.
Q: Favorite course you took at NYU?
MF: Bioinstrumentation. I’m more of a hands-on learner, so I loved how the class was half-lecture and half-lab.
VW: Anthropology 101. Fascinating content.
Q: Which well-known entrepreneur would you like to get lunch with?
MF: Richard Branson
VW: Sam Altman
Q: Favorite book or quote?
MF: "You are ready to do beautiful things in this world, and as you walk through those doors today, you will only have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.’” - Jim Carrey
VW: At the moment, it’s When Nietzsche Wept.
Q: Where is your favorite NYU spot to spend time?
MF: I spent a lot of time in the Dibner library study rooms, and now I enjoy my time at the Leslie eLab and Future Labs with just the right ecosystem to get work done.
VW: The Leslie eLab, of course.