Every company wishes to launch with a strong plan and a very detailed and organized mission in mind. They seek only the very best in their employees and the others that they do business with. The obstacles and endeavors allow companies to expand into new and exciting phases of development.
This specific company has all that in mind, but is entirely made up of students at Juniata College.
“Ever since I started into computer science here at Juniata College I wanted to start a business that designed apps for Facebook or smartphones,” said Junior Michael Cassatt. “Around the beginning of fall 2010, a friend and I stopped down at JCEL to ask them a few questions about starting a programming company and a few weeks later they got back to us saying that there was a granter that was looking to grant money to JC students to start an IT/CS company.”
Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL) is a program for students that encourages them to develop their own businesses. JCEL provides the necessary resources, counseling, and loans for students to successfully build their own business. The Sill Business Incubator is the location of the collaborative business between the JCEL faculty and the student entrepreneurs.
“The grant opportunity informed us of the original business general idea of coding apps and games, but our formal business direction hasn’t entirely been decided yet,” explained Junior Aimee Reinaker, an Information Technology major.
“To get to where we are at now, we had to write a business plan document that was between 15 and 20 pages, file with the government to become a LLC, file with the state for a federal tax id number, start a bank account, get an insurance policy through Erie, and filed for our Resellers Licenses,” said Cassatt.
The proposal was accepted and the group of students with these fresh ideas in technology was finally able to put their college experience to the test. TechnoMango started by providing web design, software development, research, marketing, and analysis for other businesses and individuals. They received a $25,000 Student Seed Capital Keystone Innovation Zone Grant, which helped to get the business on its feet.
“Besides that person that granted us the start up money, we are getting guidance from three members from the JCEL board. Professors also have been very supportive and answer questions that we might have about their past experiences in the business environment,” Cassatt explained.
In order to show JCEL the students have what it takes to run the business, each student brings a very unique skill set to the table.
“A lot of the web coding skills I’ve learned have been very helpful. Online services and interfaces are popular. Also, all coding skills and languages are of importance and use to us as well,” said Reinaker.
“We put the programming and engineering skills that we have learned to good use on every project. I’ve also been noticing things that I’ve learned in economics classes [that are] coming in handy with market analysis and things of that nature,” Cassatt continued.
The students plan to use these skills in a range of ideas that they have for the business.
“We are planning on working on a few smaller projects right now to build our experience and to get our name out there. These smaller projects are good for experiencing how business deals work and the steps that you have to go through to get contracts and meeting with clients. These smaller projects are also good for quick revenue to pay the bills. But we are looking at maybe getting into a project that would involve hundreds of hours of programming and project management,” explained Cassatt.
In order to keep these projects going, the current student employees are also looking for incoming students that would be prepared to join the team and use their skills to the business’s advantage.
“We are looking into bringing future and current students into the company as current members graduate. We will look for the best and brightest students who are motivated and interested in our business and opportunity it provides for them,” said Reinaker.
In order to keep up with their current and future business plans, the members of TechnoMango must keep up to date with everything that is happening within the company.
“We try to have weekly update meetings just to keep track of what’s happening. We also use Facebook a lot to communicate back and forth,” explained Cassatt.
Despite the fact that this business is built upon students with a Computer Science/Information Technology background, there is still an opportunity for the students to get a hands-on learning experience.
“At the very minimum, I am gaining good project management and leadership skills that I can easily use in any other job. With getting a variety projects, we are required to brush up and teach ourselves new programming languages and techniques,” Cassatt said.
The students also see it as a great opportunity to get their names out to other employees after graduation.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to network and gain experience and expand my resume and skills,” said Reinaker.
There is also an intention to launch TechnoMango as a standalone business.
“By the time I graduate, I’m hoping the company will have enough projects and revenue flow that I could easily work for the company as my full time job,” explained Cassatt.
With their sights set to the future, TechnoMango plans initialize their currently secretive projects, in hopes to gain the attention that they need in the tough business world.
Cassatt concluded, “In today’s market, starting your own business is the best way to insure that you’re going to have a job and give you the possibility to create something small and grow it into a huge corporation. It’s one thing to go through college learning these skills in business and computers but it’s completely different to actually put those skills to use in the business world.”