Written by Ryan Shaw, Marketing Coordinator, HatchPad. Ryan is our Ohio-native gone rogue and currently living in California. He is an aspiring dancer/choreographer, loves spending time with his friends and trying new experiences. Ryan is an avid traveler and generally passionate individual ready to share with the world. Check out his interview with People’s Choice Award Winner, Greetale.
We recently completed our first platform-wide challenge for Hatchpad.co and we can’t tell you how much fun it was to see so many fresh ideas. Hatchpad’s People’s Choice Student Startup Awards gave all of the student users on our platform the opportunity to win grant funding for their idea or startup. In order to be eligible, students needed to create a business page with as much detail as possible. In addition, we wanted students to create a short video giving a broad and intriguing overview of what their business idea did. The final component was that students had to market their campaign and accumulate a certain number of likes and followers.
Prizes being offered included the following:
- First Place: $1,000 grant
- Second Place: $500 grant
Grants are offered through KidBacker Foundation for Entrepreneurship, HatchPad’s sister 501(c)(3).
The teams that were able to complete all of those components were named as finalists. Our seven finalists were judged and scored across five categories such as the ‘Quality of Content’ and ‘Business Feasibility.’ Our judging panel featured some top industry professionals and innovators:
- Heather Holst-Knudsen, CEO & Founder, HatchPad
- Cristin Frodella, Head of Marketing, Google Education
- Renee Farmer, Managing Partner, President & Founder Rainmaker Capital Funding, and Managing Director Oberon Securities
- Dan Kern, former Americas Manufacturing and Energy Sector Senior Marketing Lead, Cisco Systems
- Morris Lenczicki, Vice President – Communications and Social Responsibility at L’Oreal USA
- Shreyas Parab, CEO & Founder, NovelTie and Diamond Challenge Winner
- Tonia Reis, SVP and Executive Director, Edelman Square at Edelman
Continuing with our message of helping young entrepreneurs, the feedback from our judges was shared with each team to help them continue to grow and move forward.
Finalists included (in no particular order):
Seth and Elianna Damsgard
Golf by Numbers—Pro Yardage Books for Public Golfers
Esusu—Crowdsourced Savings for Communities
Scicademy.org—The World’s First Student Research Database
RetailTrail—Find what you want to buy in minutes
Lace-Up—Never overpay for shoes again
Greetale—We make it easier, cheaper, and faster to send handwritten greeting cards right from your iPhone
VentureStorm—Online platform that connects early stage startups to local software developers
FIRST PLACE: Greetale
Founder: Rustin Rassoli
Elevator Pitch:“We make it easier, cheaper, and faster to send handwritten greeting cards right from your iPhone.”
Grant Amount: $1,000
We took some time to sit down and chat with Greetale, the 1st place winner of our People’s Choice Award, about their experience with the challenge.
Hatchpad: First things first, Congratulations on being named the winner of HatchPad’s People’s Choice Student Startup Award, that’s really fantastic. Tell us what interested you in taking part in this challenge.
Rustin Rassoli: Well thank you so much, I am really honored and excited. I had heard about HatchPad’s People’s Choice Student Startup Awards through a post on Next Gen Summit’s Facebook group. Throughout my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve gotten many no’s from people because I’m too young, so when I saw Hatchpad was offering a Student Startup Award, I immediately jumped on it. I greatly commend the people and companies who take young entrepreneurs seriously and offer support to them.
HP: Well, we are incredibly glad to help and thrilled that you decided to take part in this challenge. What did you think of the experience and what were a few of your keys to success?
RR: Initially, I was having difficulty getting people to follow our company, join in on Hatchpad, and pay attention to what we were doing. I realized that sending a generic message to sign up and like/follow my page just wouldn’t work, so I started offering some help on something someone was working on in exchange for them to support my page. I think this personal outreach and connection was what made a huge difference.
HP: That’s fantastic and something we’ve been hearing from a lot of people recently. So now you have the money, what’s your plan to use it?
RR: We are going to utilize the grant money to hire more card designers. We want to continue to grow and expand our collection for our customers.
HP: Great! Did you take away anything new from participating in this challenge?
RR: I learned that getting people to support you and what you’re doing isn’t as easy it may seem. It requires a concerted effort and valid reasoning to get people to ‘buy-in’ and sign-up and support what you’re doing.
HP: Hearing that, is there any advice you would give to individuals or teams participating in our next challenge?
RR: My advice to them is that it may seem like a lot of work to qualify at first, but I promise you it’ll be worth it in the end. Even if you don’t win, you’ll be happy with yourself that you put in the work, and you’ll get visibility on HatchPad too!
HP: That’s an awesome piece of advice about hard work and perseverance. Love that. So final question – is there anyone you would like to thank?
RR: I’d like to thank Paul McNeal for motivating me to carry through with the contest, and I’d like to thank my parents, of course, because I would not be who I am without them.
HP: A worthy acceptance speech. Congratulations to you once again Rustin and we looked forward to a bright future for you and Greetale.
SECOND PLACE: Esusu
Founder: Samir Goel
Elevator Pitch: Crowdsourced Savings for Communities
Grant Amount: $500
Hatchpad: Congratulations on being named our Runner-Up for Hatchpad’s People’s Choice Award. What sparked your interest in participating in HatchPad’s People’s Choice Student Startup Award?
Samir Goel: Well, first off, thank you so much. It means so much to myself and the team here at Esusu as we continue to move forward. But really my interest was peaked, initially, by Hatchpad in general. I am a part of the Next Gen group and Heather is a regular contributor. I think the overall concept of the Hatchpad platform is compelling and a valuable addition to the startup community. It creates a space for young people to share their ideas and get feedback and support, and obviously funding.
HP: Well I guess now we should be thanking you, that means a lot to us. Flattery aside, what was your experience like and what helped you achieve success with the People’s Choice Award?
SG: First and foremost, the community at Hatchpad is unlike almost any other. The Hatchpad team itself was great to work with and we greatly appreciated all the work Hatchpad did to help us be successful. But also the community of students utilizing this platform is really inspiring. Like I said, I think this space is really needed and you can tell, by the people who take advantage of it, that it is just a really supportive platform. Aside from that, there definitely were some challenges along the way, and marketing a new idea/company is always a bit difficult. We found a lot of success in utilizing personal requests and messaging to help get the word out. People responded much better when we spoke to them or messaged them directly than when we made blanket social media posts.
HP: *insert blushing* We really appreciate that but also understand the struggles in marketing as we are still in our hatching phase so kudos to you guys. So now you have the ‘big check’ as they say, what’s your plan for the money?
SG: Development. We are really focused on getting the product to market. We have assembled a great team, and the win at Hatchpad actually really helps us in the fight to get more funding and investors, so our biggest focus is on getting our product out to the world.
HP: Alright, we see you. That’s great and we are glad to know we can help. Speaking of help – did you learn anything new about your product or business in general from this experience?
SG: The simpler the better. I realized as we were creating our business page on Hatchpad that we needed to be able to explain what we were doing in a way that the most people could understand it. I think this is a big part of any idea or business. Simplifying everything in order for more people to understand makes your product more desirable. That was a great step in the right direction for us.
HP: That’s so true. Simplicity is a must, for sure. So given your experience, what advice would you leave for people participating in our next challenge?
SG: This can apply to any aspect of life but is also applicable to business. People respond to authenticity. If you believe in the idea you are spreading or the company you are creating people can tell. That spark or energy is what compels others to support you in the journey. The more genuine you are the better your outcomes will be.
HP: Wow, truer words have never been spoken. That’s a really fantastic take on things. Alright, think award shows: is there anyone you would like to thank? (we promise Kanye is not in the audience to interrupt you)
SG: First and foremost, I’m grateful to launch Esusu with Abbey, my co-founder. Aside from being exceptional, he is one of the most committed, down-to-earth, and fun people to work with. In addition, I’d like to thank the rest of our team: Jeph, Sophia, and Rob for all their hard work that has gotten us to this point. None of this would be possible without them. Finally, a big thank you to my friends and families who are always there to support me, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
HP: One of the best acceptance speeches we’ve heard. Samir, thank you so much for being a part of Hatchpad and we look forward to seeing you and the Esusu team take things to new heights.
Name of Business: Greetale
Founder: Rustin Rassoli
Age of Founder: 17
Business Type: Easy and time saving greeting cards
Location: Houston, Texas
Name of Business: Esusu
Founder: Samir Goel
Business Type: Positive reinforced saving application
Location: San Francisco, CA