The Graphrite has been a long journey and one that I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in. The purpose of this blog post is to document my experience and determine what has been “the hardest part” of starting up a company and getting it on its feet. But as I rack my brain for reasons of which experience proved most difficult, I find myself coming up dismally short of content each time. Probably because the experience as a whole has been remarkably…simple.
When Keith approached me about doing design work for his idea (it was really just making a logo) and then had me enter into Maker’s Competition with him, I thought it would most likely be a one-time thing. Unfortunately, when you try things, sometimes they work. We ended up winning Maker’s that year and were encouraged by all the judges to consider moving forward with the idea. It was something neither of us had considered, and certainly couldn’t do by ourselves. That’s where Maddie Williams, an Entrepreneurship major, steps in. We’d been friends with Maddie since freshman year, but as it goes, had somewhat fallen apart. She approached us about doing marketing and the business side of The Graphrite startup and we agreed. Before we knew it, a small partnership was forming. Maddie started talking to the Grove City bookstore (where you can buy a Graphrite!) and soon we had an order. Keith did a small production run and the Graphrites were delivered to the bookstore. We kept meeting distantly over the summer, and during the Fall semester, I was filled in on what went on in meetings since I was abroad. We made a website, bringing Sam Kenney on board, and entered in VentureLab for the Spring semester. The whole thing was taking off.
This past semester being in VentureLab has shown us how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go, and how many different options there are to take. From that point of view, it has been daunting to consider what kind of organization to label ourselves, how to divvy profits and shares, how best to protect our property, and what to do after we all graduate. But even in that difficulty it’s been a blessing to work with people who have been so willing to work hard and be respectful. I believe all that hard work is a big part of why we’re in VentureBattle and a huge pointer of the potential of our future success. Keith put it best when he said that Maddie, Sam, and I are his team. The sentiment is mutual. For how difficult starting a company might have been, it has been a very organic and clean process. Maddie has worked tirelessly. Keith has done so much research. Sam has been a valuable asset in our web presence, and, I like to think that I’ve helped brand a strong company. By necessarily relying on each other, we’ve actually created a team that’s strong and a company that has been easy to start and will hopefully have a strong future.