In 2013, Ohio University undergraduate Seth Miller and his partner Brandon Logan, a 2012 OHIO graduate, came in first place at Startup Weekend Athens with Rapchat, a mobile application that allows users to communicate via short raps set over pre-recorded beats. The app is free, and has been downloaded over 192,000 times with an impressive 170,000 of those downloads coming from 2015.
Startup Weekend returns to Athens on March 13. The event, held at the Ohio University Innovation Center, gives students an opportunity to pitch business ideas and receive feedback from their peers, who help develop the most successful pitches.
Miller, who graduated in 2014 with a dual bachelor’s degrees in business administration and sports management, attributes his initial confidence and business progress to his experiences at Startup Weekend. During the event the Rapchat team built a prototype, figured out potential revenue streams, and came up with key statistics they use to this day.
“In the end, I’m not sure if Rapchat would exist today if I didn’t go to Startup Weekend. Getting validation from people other than my family and friends that this idea could be huge was instrumental in me taking the next step to form a company and begin working on it,” he said.
His advice to current students who want to start their own businesses: “Remove the ‘I wish there was a blank’ statements with ‘Eff it, I’m going to create blank.’”
“You’d be surprised to realize that you subconsciously come up with business ideas every day as you complain about the problems you’re facing,” he said. “If you pay attention to these problems and complaints that surface throughout the course of one day, you’ll quickly realize that these may be problems — but more importantly they are opportunities to come up with an idea to solve these problems.”.
Startup Weekend is a prime opportunity to test out the potential of such ideas, and anyone can participate.
“You don’t have to be a business student to start a business and you don’t have to be a computer science major to learn how to code,” Miller said. “Startups require creativity and passion. Even if you aren’t feeling creative or passionate—experiences like these will spark that in you.”
Miller has lofty goals for the company. “I plan to build the rap social network,” he said. “If [users] want to hear a random freestyle that Wiz Khalifa did in the car, they should be able to navigate to Wiz’s feed and play it.”
With a rapidly expanding user base, Miller is well on the way to achieving that goal. Participants in this year’s Startup Weekend could find similar success, and Miller wants to help them do so.
“Talk to me because I’ve learned way too many things the hard way. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to help,” he said.
Rapchat can be downloaded on the Apple App Store. For more information, visit http://www.rapchat.me/
For more on Startup Weekend and registration information, visit www.up.co/communities/usa/athens-oh/startup-weekend/5699. An early-bird special grants reduced registration prices until Friday, March 6.
Article Written By: Hannah Koerner