NYU Founder Diaries: Jones

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The Startup: Jones combines behavioral support and science-backed habit formation tools with nicotine replacement therapy to help people quit vaping.

The Founders: Caroline Huber (Stern ‘23) and Hilary Dubin

How They Met: At eight years old, as soccer teammates in their hometown of Santa Monica, California

Participated In: Startup Bootcamp, Startup Sprint, Summer Launchpad, Female Founders FellowshipVC PitchfestStartup Coaching2022 NYU-Yale Pitchoff (Winner), NYU Leslie eLab Founders In Residence

​​Below, Huber and Dubin share more about their founder journeys and inspirations. (Responses have been edited for clarity.)

Q: When did you both first become interested in entrepreneurship?

CH: I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship! Even as a kid, I always had side hustles and worked odd jobs. The concept of bringing something new and useful into the world has always excited me.

HD: The process of building things and solving problems has intrigued me since I was little. I’ve worked on a number of startups and side hustles since I was a freshman in college, everything from a music streaming service aggregator to a chatbot for academic planning to a podcast for women in tech. What draws me in is always noticing a problem that’s not being solved, and wondering why a solution doesn’t already exist.

Q: What first sparked the idea for your startup?

The idea came to us because we both were addicted to vaping (sadly). We saw how intense the struggle to curb our addiction was, and we figured there must be a better solution for people like us who wanted to kick the habit.

Q: What was your original concept for Jones? Has it shifted since you launched in 2022?

We’ve generally stayed true to the original concept — we wanted to provide a solution for those looking to quit vaping, and that has never changed. We’ve worked with medical experts to build a digital program and community to support people throughout their journey and we’ve paired that with a nicotine replacement therapy (a mint) that’s clinically proven to help curb your cravings. We’ve iterated on the right platform for the digital offering — texts vs. web app vs. native app, and our app and SMS program are in beta right now! We’re launching our products later this summer, and we plan to continuously improve our offering as we learn more from our customers!

Q: How did you initially find NYU’s entrepreneurial community?

CH: Initially, NYU’s entrepreneurial landscape felt daunting and disjointed. There are so many resources available across schools and clubs that it felt overwhelming to navigate. But, once I entered the Leslie eLab it was clear I’d found what I was looking for, as it offered a wide range of bootcamps and accelerator programs. Hilary and I were already working together before I started my MBA, so we knew we wanted to take advantage of NYU’s resources in order to maximize the potential of our business. We absolutely loved every program we’ve participated in at the Leslie eLab and have grown so much as a result.

Q: How have your experiences in the Startup Accelerator Series transformed the way you’re approaching your venture?

Testing. Testing. Testing. These programs ingrain the importance of customer centricity. Don’t build in a vacuum! It’s necessary to get out of the building and test your concepts to make sure you’re solving a real problem, and that your solution is one people actually will adopt. Or as Frank [Rimalovski] always says, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.”

Q: What’s the biggest business challenge your startup has overcome so far?

Working in a regulated space like pharmaceuticals comes with a steep learning curve and lots of "no’s." We’ve had to be very persistent to grow our credibility as a startup.

Q: What has been the most rewarding moment of your founder journeys so far?

Closing our pre-seed in the fall was exciting, but what’s even more rewarding is seeing the fruits of our labor now that our digital platform is in beta. Engaging with real customers is what keeps us going!

Q: What advice would give to aspiring student founders?

Be flexible! Things will not go as planned, so be ready for lots of surprises and setbacks.

Q: Which successful entrepreneur would you like to get lunch with, and which NYC restaurant would you take them to?

Kim Kardashian. One Instagram post from her and we’re off to the races! We’d take her to our favorite bakery, Winner.

Q: Favorite book/movie?

CH: I just read Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner and absolutely loved it. Her vulnerability in her recounting of personal grief is inspiring and heartbreaking.

HD: Captain Fantastic is one of my favorite movies of all time. I have a knack for adventure, independence, and pushing the boundaries of the way things are done — I think this movie is a really beautiful showcase of the human spirit and testing new ways of thought (and what happens when you push things too far).

Connect with Jones on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube.