Meet Innovator of the Week
President and Founder of Velle Technology
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
On college campuses across the country, students are asking a simple question: “What is happening now on campus?” Student-run organizations and on-campus venues are constantly struggling to organize, promote, and manage their events and truly engage their student body. HappsNow fixes that! We empower student organizations with a revolutionary tool to effectively plan, promote, and monetize their events. We enable students to see exactly what is happening around them in real-time so that they never miss an opportunity to attend any event.
HappsNow connects college student to every event, on and around their campus, through easy-to-use, real-time, event calendars. The HappsNow app engages the entire student body by creating a secure environment where students can share information, connect with friends, and see all campus organizations promoting their events for a particular date and time. We unify the campus by creating an engaged student body that is safe, private, and auditable by college administrators.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
I was fortunate enough to have been selected as one of six companies to be a part of Alpha Loft’s Accelerate NH program. The guidance, advice, lessons, and support from Mark Kaplan and Joshua Cyr were invaluable, and the program instilled lessons not soon to be soon forgotten.
In addition, Accelerate NH teamed each company up with an industry leader from NH to act as a mentor. My mentor, Paul Mailhot (Senior Vice President of Sales at Dyn), was truly a guiding force in my early journey. Our weekly calls covered everything: advice on how to handle a certain client, instruction on creating a documented sales cycle, and being a sounding board for me was one of the best resources I could have asked for. For anyone looking to start their own company, I strongly encourage them to reach out to Alpha Loft!
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
Guy Kawasaki once said, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” That quote has always resonated with me. Anyone close to me can attest to the fact that HappsNow is not the company it was a week, month, or 6 months ago. There were many setbacks. One of the largest setbacks was in creating a product that served a purpose but didn’t offer a solution of magnitude better than the norm. When we could have thrown in the towel, or just kept trudging along, we pivoted. That pivot was one of the best decisions the company could have made, and we are fortunate to be witnessing the success of that decision.
What’s the best advice you have received?
That advice came from reading “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel. Thiel asserted that the only way for a startup to truly be successful is if it’s ten times better than what is on the market. It is always easy for a founder to say that their product has that magnitude, but what truly matters is being able to sit back and look at what you have created and truly ask, “Is this revolutionary? Is this truly beyond anything on the market?” If the answer is no, then what makes or breaks a company is if you can go back to that drawing board and say “Ok, what do we need to do to make this product or offering stronger?” Going back to the drawing board is hard, but it is harder to come to terms with the fact that you need to innovate after you have developed an idea. It’s all about being able to look objectively and to know what you need to do to make your start-up successful.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
New Hampshire has an excellent technological infrastructure with high-quality people who are motivated, innovative and independent. Combined with a high quality of life, excellent schools, and outdoor activities to suit every season and lifestyle, New Hampshire is a great place to start a company.
What does the future look like for your company?
It is truly a terrific time for HappsNow. We have had some amazing feedback from partnered colleges, and we are seeing positive traction. We have immediate short-term goals for the next couple months for implementing HappsNow at local colleges and universities and for closing several major universities in other states by the time fall semester arrives.
Since the summer months are our key sales time, we intend to target many cities with multiple colleges. We are also working on finalizing our campus ambassador program, where our campus reps will be current students who advocate for the use of HappsNow in their area, especially since we are free for students and student organizations. Our social media and website will be updated with our new college partnerships regularly.
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