Sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92

Come see the Finalists pitch live at the Startup Showcase!

April 27, 2018

Jon M. Huntsman Hall

Startup Challenge Semifinalist MyNet

MyNet is a B2B SaaS company in the higher education space. Our content and software helps college students create personal support networks of mentors and advisors so that they persist in college.

How did you come up with this idea?

There were two primary drivers that led to the idea of MyNet.

First, the idea came out of necessity–we created MyNet because we needed it ourselves. About a year ago, I was working on a side project that was a “pre accelerator” program to help non technical founders run experiments to test the market and their product’s value proposition. A key driver of our success was the mentoring component. We’d built up a big pool of mentors, and we created the methodology that underlies MyNet… how to set expectations with mentors, how to keep them up to date, and how to track progress, while we were struggling to coordinate mentorship for our own program participants. This helped us empathize with folks at universities and companies who were trying to run mentoring programs–which opened opportunities to use the software at our first few university pilot customers.

The second driver were the seeds planted about 5 years ago when I was running the content team at Grovo, a microlearning company. My team was working with a customer creating middle skills training–for people looking to get middle skills jobs, or ones that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. After seeing customers come to us with similar problems (skills gaps in core skill groups) it got me thinking: are the problems that I’m working on here merely symptoms of a problem that’s root cause is elsewhere, perhaps earlier in someone’s development? I decided that my answer was to affect skills gaps earlier in the talent pipeline… by helping more people complete college degrees and acquire necessary skills.

How will your venture change the world?

30% of college students who start a degree each year drop out, leading to $14B in lost revenue for universities, and $1M in lost earning potential for each student who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree.

We have a large opportunity to have social impact. If we’re successful, we’ll prevent individual students from taking on bad debt incurred by dropping out of school, help them secure a degree and access to higher lifetime income. We’ll prevent universities from losing billions in lost revenue from student attrition, improving retention, and reducing the likelihood of regulatory issues. We’ll ensure that billions of dollars in student loans are addressing their original intent, resulting in a more advanced workforce. With the higher education market as a beachhead market segment, we see applications for personal support networks in multiple other market segments: for example, helping employees, non profit beneficiaries, or even individual consumers benefit from building deep relationships with others to achieve their goals. We’re excited to demonstrate the value of personal support networks while creating a scalable social venture that has a significant impact overall.

COMPETING TEAM:

Thomas W. Samph, GED’18

Fun Fact:

  • Tom used to work in a bakery in Paris as a second job while he was teaching English to elementary school kids in France. He also has a dog named after cheese (“Cam”).

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