We started Mayterm not knowing what to expect. We began making solar umbrellas and now we have a product that we actually plan to take out to the real world and sell. Other than seeing the ins and outs of the startup world, we learned so much about each other and ourselves. Pretty rapidly, we grew closer over developing Audrey, Inc. and BluTours. We shared our mutual love for Chipotle (and got some newbies to try it for the first time), ended the days playing and learning FIFA, and shared some great laughs all along the way. Although we plan to take BluTours past the month of May, we still will not forget all of the great memories that we made with each other in the office space known as B1.
Signing off ~ The Audrey, Inc. Team
DNASTI - IABUKWAIK - EBOWMAN - DELICAN THE DELICATE PELICAN - JJONES - HMILKE - NISRANI - MFLEMING -SWILDSTEIN
You can’t keep the team at Audrey, Inc. from working; we spent our Memorial Day working from our "poolside offices" in Essex Fells. The day was full of networking, preparation for our pitch on Thursday, and planning the future of our company. When you love what you do, you never work a day.
Today was a serious and productive day, even for a Friday. We spent the morning editing our business plan and finalizing our app designs. Before lunch, we were visited by MKA alumni Angela McCaffrey and Caitlin DiRuggiero, owners of Corefire, a local pilates studio. Both Angela and Caitlin will be sitting in on our final pitch next week, and it was great to run our idea by them and hear their feedback. We ordered in Chinese Wah-Chung for our weekly wrap-up lunch meeting and discussed our plans for next week as we design and practice our pitch. After lunch, one member of our team had a business call with Sujoy Roy, the CEO and founder of VisitDays, a service that colleges use to increase enrollment through mobile engagement. Mr. Roy gave valuable advice on financials, including the expectations for our rollouts, our financial timeline, and our pricing strategy. Meanwhile, the rest of our team wrapped up the week’s work and continued planning for our final week of Startup 101. Our whole team is excited in anticipation of our pitch to investors, entrepreneurs, MKA alumni, MKA trustees, family, and friends next Thursday. These first three weeks have gone by faster than anyone here at Audrey Inc. can believe!
I think that everyone on the Audrey team would agree that Facebook might have been the best site visit of our entire May Term. Sam and Ibs started off the day early with a phone conference with the CEO of Labwerk, a company specializing in iBeacon and app platform technology. The rest of the team started off the day as usually do when going to the city; we took the bus to Secaucus and took the train to Penn Station, but today, we took the subway! Although the subway is nothing new to most of us, we had some entertainment en-route to the Facebook offices.
Once we got there, we had a quick tour of the office space, where we saw the engineering, sales, and marketing teams at work. Just like any of the other site visits, we were all impressed with both the laid-back atmosphere and the intensity and, of course — free food! But what set Facebook apart from the other site visits that we went on in the city was the conversation that we had with some of the employees afterwards. The Audrey, Inc. team talked to about ten employees about the work that they did at Facebook, who they worked with, what their day was like, and the results that we see as consumers.
We were really able to benefit from this discussion from talking about marketing strategies from the pros themselves! We talked to the lead of the Brand Development of Instagram about the best way to get Instagram followers, and talked to Julius, a developer, about how Facebook is using Beacons in local New York businesses. After the insightful discussion, we had a delicious, Turkish lunch in the Facebook cafeteria and marveled over our new Facebook swag. On the way back to Penn station, we had some more entertainment in the Subway, and saw some NYU graduates in their caps and gowns along our way. Overall, it was a very successful and very unforgettable day.
Introducing the voice of Audrey. After finalizing a script, we recorded a voiceover in a makeshift soundstage and wrapped production on our launch video. The shoot went smoothly…after teaching our voice-actor how to properly say the product name (which she came up with).
On the business end, we coordinated a conference call with Labwerk, a tech company based in Amsterdam. Our finance team made a lot of progress on the business plan, and our product development team prepared for our visit to Facebook, Inc. tomorrow.
Today also involved an overhaul of the design of the BluTours app to promote user-friendliness. The new design is sleeker and more personable than ever before.
It was a busy day, but all work and no play doesn’t make for a dull day here at Audrey Inc.
The Audrey Inc. team had an early start today, proving that the early bird does in fact catch the worm. Some team members had a morning meeting with Gretchen Berra, Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Communications, who helped us understand how the Montclair Kimberley Alumni App was created through EverTrue mobile software builders. With this information, our team was able to crunch some numbers: development costs, hosting fees, etc. While our designers updated screens for our app, our coders worked hard on bringing these designs to life. In prepping for our pitch next week, the Audrey team also finalized our purpose. With all the data from the survey we conducted, we went over our problem and solution to validate that the world really does need BluTours!
After a lovely break for lunch at Panera Bread and a quick game of FIFA, the entire team got straight back to work. We had another call, this time with a representative from a mobile marketing service called Urban Airship. Our marketing team also worked on developing some campaigns for BluTours (launching soon!). Thus far, we are making good progress. The further we delve into developing our app, the more ideas we have. We cannot wait to share with all of you!
Today, in spite of gloomy weather and Monday lethargy, Audrey, Inc. was back to the grindstone! We had an early start with a conference call with Peter Lee, the VP of innovation at PetSmart. PetSmart is currently integrating new technology into their store experience, and we are looking to use the same technology in our software. Mr. Lee was a fantastic resource, teaching us about how we can get the most out of the technology and recommending multiple platforms we can use to aid our app development. He was also able to give us insight into what we should and shouldn’t do with regards to our business plan.
We all spent the morning with our heads buried in our computers working hard on our business plan, app design, and proof of concept. We took a much-needed break to grab sandwiches for lunch around noon and returned to our workspace to finish off our tasks for the day. Today was tiring, but we are excited for the productive week ahead of us.
Well, like all Fridays, our day mostly consisted of winding down. Although most people came in around 9 o’clock to catch up on some work, we did not have our team meeting until 11, where we went over our progress over the past week and plan out our plan for the upcoming days. We created a timeline for the next two weeks, began talks for our marketing campaign, and finalized our company slogan. The room was booming with noise, but as soon as the food came, the sound of chewing and forks hitting containers were the only things heard. After our lunch meeting, we got back to work, only to be interrupted by a Friday-noon game of Fifa. We are definitely looking forward to the progress we are going to make next week, both in school and our site visit at Facebook on Thursday.
Today was our first day back in the Audrey workspace since Monday. After two days of New York City trips, it was nice to be back to a regular work schedule. Our design team worked on app designs, our programmers worked on coding some of the app designs from last week, and our business team worked on market research. Taking a break from our work, we took a trip to Smashburger, where we witnessed Audrey Inc. member Heather’s first Smash experience.
Afterwards, the team had a meeting Phil Bowman, a specialist in marketing, global communication, and customer experience. Mr. Bowman has worked at companies such as PetSmart, TD Bank, and TD Ameritrade. He was extremely helpful, helping us to understand marketing strategy, scaling our business model, and how to improve customer experience. After a long and informative conversation, we went back to work... only to be interrupted by a birthday celebration! Both Danny and Heather were able to blow out some candles and enjoy some gluten-free chocolate cake. What a great way to end the day!
Pitch perfect. It's not just the feel-good comedy that has popularized a cappella all over the country. It's also one of the first lessons that the Audrey Inc. team learned during our second visit to New York City. Our day in the city began with a visit to the startup accelerator Techstars, a mentorship-driven seed-stage accelerator program. There, we met KJ Singh, who is currently the Director of Techstars, NYC. One of the most important features of this program is advising companies on how to strategically pitch their idea to potential investors. Mr. Singh gave us the opportunity to watch videos from Techstars' "Investor Day," where we saw companies like Spoon University and Stefan's Head show off their stuff, and pitch their ideas to angel investors and venture capitalists in under 4 minutes. The entire Audrey team definitely walked away from this meeting with a better understanding of how to prepare for our pitch at the end of May. We stopped at Chipotle for lunch, and got our delicious burritos just before the line got a little too crazy!
Next, we visited Quirky, a company that helps real people with develop their ideas into items for the marketplace. Their offices were just as "quirky" as the name suggests, and we all had a blast during our tour with Sarah Bain, Quirky Outreach Manager. We loved the collaborative, open space, and the fabulous features of their offices. After seeing inventions like Pivot Power and Wink Relay, the entire team was truly inspired. We were even invited back to see their product evaluation, where industry experts and community members debate the best ideas submitted to Quirky (streamed live every Thursday 7 PM ET at https://www.quirky.com/live). After a long, but exciting day, we headed back to Penn Station (through High Line Park of course!) as a more motivated and inspired team.
They say that New York City is filled with magic and discoveries —well the Audrey, INC. team found both in Chelsea today. We stepped off the air conditioned NJ Transit train into the sweltering city. After about fifteen blocks of walking, everyone was beyond amazed inside the Google offices. Five minutes into the tour with Kevin Fives, our expectations were exceeded when we learned about the scooters that engineers to get from one side of the building to another. We were surprised again when he informed us that all of the snack bars were free of charge (why can’t the survival shop be more like Google?!). Mr. Fives took us into a few other integral areas of the building, like the game room and the bistro. All games and food aside, the Google office really opened our eyes to what a “tech” environment looks like and also the possibilities that we have after college.
After the tour, the team traveled over to Chelsea Market, where we expanded our palate for Japanese inspired Taquería, vegan sushi, Korean barbeque sandwiches, and pizza. The food alone was amazing, but the experience truly made it memorable. Making our way back to Penn Station, we took the more scenic High Line Park where we overlooked many parts of the city. On an 85 degree day, the walk could not be more perfect. Although the scenery was great, the fatigue of walking all day was starting to get to some members of the team, and we shortly arrived to Penn Station and swiftly walked to the train.
Decompressing from such an eventful day, we can all truly say that this site visit taught us valuable information not only in the Tech sector, but gave us valuable insight into our to the start up business and Audrey, Inc. as well!
Even though Mondays have the reputation of bringing about procrastination, miserable co-workers, and an overall gloomy mood in the building, B1 was actually the complete opposite from the beginning of the day to the end. We started the day with a progress meeting to set all of our goals for the week. From there, we started on our tasks — working on the product research and finalizing the Audrey and BluTours logos. Ibs, Jillian, and Sam went to meetings with members of the MKA admissions and college counseling offices to do more research on the features that our product should and should not have.
There, they gathered some valuable information to help with the development of the app. After a few productive hours, the team recharged with a quick trip to Panera. After, Declan, Madi and Danny started the long and involved process of creating the user interface for BluTours app. Towards the end of the day, Audrey Inc.’s social media accounts went live, so follow us: @AudreyInc on Snapchat & Vine, and @AudreyInc9 on Instagram & Twitter. We can’t wait to post some pictures and videos from our visit to the Google offices tomorrow!
Today, the Audrey team made great progress in developing the company, the product, and all of the attributes, like the logo, associated with our improvements. We began our day by summarizing the progress we have made in our respective teams. After only working together for five days, we have a strong foundation in our competition and product research as well as strong leads in our product and design logo. During our rundown, we had MKA Trustee member Mr. Andlinger, who gave us useful advice that will help down the road. After devouring our rather large order of Chinese food from T.S. Ma, we went back to work, working on new logo designs and fleshing out the beginnings of our business plan. We ended the our Friday afternoon over a fairly verbose game of Call of Duty, but we will come back to the ‘office’ on Monday bright, fresh, and ready for a new challenge.
We began the day by defining the roles of each of the members of our team, dividing up tasks based on talent and interest. We then shared the individual research we did last night regarding the different idea options, narrowing down our ideas and even developing some new ones. As seniors who have just completed the college process, we ultimately decided to attempt to enhance the student experience of finding a school that is the right fit. We plan to do this using a mobile-friendly app that incorporates innovative bluetooth technology.
Our whole team has begun to research into the possibilities for our idea. Our designers have begun to create options for logos, business cards, and app designs, and our programmers have begun to learn the coding necessary to execute our app. Meanwhile, our social media and marketing members were hard at work this afternoon beginning development of our social media sites, including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Stay tuned for details on how to follow us on those sites in the coming week! Our entire team is thrilled to have a defined project to focus on, and we can't wait to see where it takes us.
At exactly 10:30am we left our MKA home-base to venture off into the Big Apple in search for knowledge and inspiration from the product design firm called aruliden. Accompanied by three leaders of the firm, our team was presented with aruliden's mission as well as their most recent product line. In addition, we were provided with advice regarding the importance of how to efficiently work towards the same goal, how great products market themselves (they called it "producting"), and how working with constraints, a four week deadline in our case, can be beneficial in keeping our ideas and work more focused on a single idea.
Our conference was followed by lunch at a delicious thin crust pizzeria where we exchanged more ideas but also enjoyed our time together laughing and making jokes. For tomorrow, we are each choosing three problems to research and pitch. The public will soon be able to follow us on several social media platforms. Stay tuned and welcome to Audrey, INC.!
Today, we came up with fifty ideas for company names as well fifty common unsolved problems that we strongly believe will revolutionize the way humans live today. Our ideas stretch between many industries including healthcare, entertainment, news, education, and many more.
Starting with many ideas and names will allow us to separate what we believe are the best ideas from the others. One of the ways we created ideas was by practicing activities such as rapid-fire brainstorming where we would set a 60-second timer and rapidly name as many ideas as we could. We found this to be a fun and effective way to produce many of our ideas. Most importantly, it keeps our group engaged in what we are trying to accomplish. Once we completed our goal, we all agreed it was time for some fun. We went to the top floor of the school and threw paper planes out the window. Whoevers plane went the furthest won (Beth took home the gold in this competition). Following the contest we stepped out for lunch at a sushi bar in Montclair where we all tried something new. Closing the day, we began constructing pictures of company logos and slogans. Today was a productive day and we are looking forward to many more like it!
After a business lunch over Chipotle in the Eagle Rock reservation, we started our pursuit to find our next company name and product. It is now almost 3pm, and we have 23 problems to solve and 50 business names to narrow down, with more to come. We have our work cut out for us.