Where Are They Now?
Jason Shah, INeedAPencil.com (2010)Jessica Mah, InternshipIN and inDinero (2009)Brent Skoda, CollegeFitness.com (2010)Brian Laoruangroch, Green Mobile (2009)Whitney Williams, Tramonti (2010)Matthew Brimer, GXStudios (2009)Chris Varenhorst, Lingt (2009)Caroline Rooney, The Bearon (2009)Ryan Dickerson, Rylaxing (2010)
Status update: Sold!
Jason Shah has received a great deal of press for his company, I Need a Pencil, a free online SAT prep program. From CNN to People magazine, INeedAPencil.com now has a sleeker website and has gained more than 12,000 new students and handfuls of partner organizations since last year. Now, he's found a buyer. "I am still completing the paperwork and transition," he says "but with graduation [from Harvard University] on the horizon, I have found a larger organization to acquire and grow INeedAPencil.com from this year forward." Shah plans to move to Silicon Valley, where he'll be launching a new tech start-up he says is "focused on making businesses more productive and the average employee much happier."
Status update: Moving on.
Since last year, Jessica Mah and Andy Su both graduated college, moving on from their Coolest College Start-up, InternshipIN. These days, the duo is working full-time with six employees, who are also their friends from college, on inDinero. "It really feels like we're just working on a big class project with each other," Mah says. The team recently moved into a new office five minutes away from the house that Mah shares with three of her employees. InDinero's customer base has grown from 6,000 to more than 10,000 and is set to launch its second version of the product in July. By the end of the year, Mah wants to double her number of customers.
Status update: Growing fast.
A lot has changed for Brent Skoda, founder of CollegeFitness.com. In addition to developing partnerships with colleges such as University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon, and the University of Utah, Skoda has expanded his business in a major way. He won first place in the 2010 Global Student Entrepreneurs of the Year competition. But that's not all. "We developed the world's largest database of restaurant menu nutrition," he says. "It's pretty much changed our life." Skoda has been working his new business, Yumee, for four years. His parent company, Ahkeo, has 15 employees and last year's revenue of about $3.5 million. "I'd like to get to $10 million in revenue…maybe even $15 million," Skoda says.
Status update: Seeking new relationships.
The business life is good for Brian Laoruangroch, CEO and founder of Green Mobile. "Since [Inc.com's] article, we were contacted by many readers to open one of our stores," he says. Green Mobile now has three franchise locations and Laorangroch is looking to expand. "I have spent the last two years converting our business model into a franchise that I will be able to grow like McDonalds, Subway, and Cartridge World," he says. Two more franchises are on schedule to open this summer and Laoruangroch hopes to open 10 more across the Midwest by the end of the year.
Status update: Hitting refresh.
Whitney Williams is all about change. Her jewelry collection, Tramonti, is now known as The Whitney Williams Collection. "I have re-structured my business model and now design and make pieces for two of my collections but I am also acting as a buyer, selling jewelry on my site that I get from market," she says. Williams graduated from Texas Christian University in December and is currently working at a start-up public relations firm called Reverse Gravity Marketing while continuing to manage her jewelry collection.
Status update: in a new relationship.
Although the men of GXStudios have split up their old venture, that doesn't mean they've stopped creating. Two of the partners, Matthew Brimer and Brad Hargreaves, have recently launched a new company called General Assembly, an urban campus in New York City for technology, design, and entrepreneurship. Brimer and Hargreaves, along with co-founders Adam Pritzker and Jake Schwartz, received a $200,000 grant from the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Status update: It's complicated.
A lot has changed for Chris Varenhorst and Justin Cannon, co-founders of Lingt Classroom, an online tool for teaching foreign language. Varenhorst says that "growth has been slow but pretty steady over its two-year life span. It's currently used by [about] 1,500 students and teachers every day." Recently the company announced that its gaming platform has been acquired by Dictionary.com, which will reconstruct the technology into a flashcard product. Varenhorst, who's currently pursuing a masters in computer science at MIT, is running Lingt Classoom, the rebranded product of Lingt Lanuage.
Status update: Hitting refresh. Caroline Rooney's The Bearon is still set on spreading the love. After celebrating her company's third anniversary, Rooney is focused on expanding and reconstructing her T-shirt line. "I want [The Bearon] to become a fashion and lifestyle company," she says, which is why she decided to reconstruct her website, grow her blog and launch her new jewelry line, Shine.
Status update: Comfy.
Ryan Dickerson, founder of the Rylaxer, the bed-transforming pillow, reached his goals for 2010. Not only has he continued to sell his product and expanded into the college market but also he's preparing to introduce a few more products. "We have started partnering with a couple student storage and move-in services," he says. "We are also unveiling a new product in a month or two called the Quarterback…a more refined, smaller, and more efficient product designed for one user." Dickerson decided to stay at Syracuse University to pursue a master's degree in entrepreneurship. "Since we have been doing so well, the school has offered four of us free tuition to stay and grow the business," he says. —Gabrielle Blue