There are times in our lives when the universe conspires to confirm that where we are, what we’re doing, and who interact with…. is in agreement with our life purpose. My name is Christopher Bell, III aka “The Janitor” and I clean up issues common to launching, building, and growing businesses. I experienced a moment of affirmation after receiving a call last week from a former intern, Shandhra Ramana, a Penn State university student, data analyst, and technology entrepreneur. Here’s what she shared…
Chris: Shandhra, the last time I saw you, you were working as an intern at a data management company in Maryland where I was consulting. Where are you now, and what’s next?
Shandhra: After leaving the company and talking to you, I started working on my project “Moodpapers” and recruited a team with the help of Happy Valley Launchbox and Peter Whalen. We pitched our prototype to win the Penn State Startup Idea-Makers Challenge and Penn State flew our team to San Francisco to meet with the CEOs of Weebly and Reddit who shared aspects of their entrepreneurial endeavors and challenges! In addition, I interned with a major health insurance company as a Data and System Analyst intern. I’m preparing to graduate in December’17!
Chris: How long was your business concept on the “shelf of your mind”, and what was the catalyst that drove you to actually begin working on it?
Shandhra: It’s been on my mind since the fifth grade, but I didn’t know what it was, or where to take it until the day I talked to you about it. You really liked my idea and inspired me to think deeper; You shared different ways that this may work and helped me to think differently. I remember when you asked me to write questions and I thought about them, day and night. Since I was studying Entrepreneurship as a minor, I took more classes, talked to professors, students, researchers, and potential customers, and put together a team that validated our product and the businesses model.
Chris: What are your best and most challenging business experiences to-date?
Shandhra: Winning a pitch competition but then trying to get funding for research. We’ve been asked to prove the technology first before getting the funding we need, but we need the funding first for our digital ink and conductive materials research. Now we’re working on developing a minimal viable product and hope that it will help us raise the initial funding we need. Let’s see how it goes!
Chris: If there is one last piece of advice you could give a university student with goals that include becoming a technology entrepreneur… what would it be?
Shandhra: Start with asking great questions (as you say) and be willing pivot your idea when the answers don’t fit; Don’t get too attached to your initial solution or idea. It’s probably going to evolve to become a better fit for the problem you are trying to solve. Finally, don’t stop – be persistent to succeed!