(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a five-part series profiling the start-ups that are participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “CodeWorks” accelerator. “Demo Day” for the six teams in the program is December 17.)
Alex Klibisz and Sam Rose are the Founders of StudyDraft. The two were co-workers at Cadre5, a local tech company. For now, Klibisz is focused full-time on the start-up.
How did you come-up with the name? It was inspired by the idea of picking teams to study with – like the NFL/NBA/MLB/etc. drafts. The idea has changed slightly since coming-up with the name, but the name has stuck so far!
What is the problem you are trying to solve or opportunity on which you are trying to capitalize? We are focused on streamlining the ways that students communicate with one another outside of class about their assignments, projects, and class-related tasks
When did you first start thinking that your idea might warrant starting a company? We started building our mobile application in July 2015. I don’t know that we necessarily consider ourselves a typical company, but our goals aligned well with that of “CodeWorks,” so we’re seeing where it takes us.
What motivated you to apply for “CodeWorks”? When we learned about it, “CodeWorks” seemed like a great opportunity to learn business and product development skills that we often lack or overlook because we’re both programmers.
At this stage, what has been your biggest aha event where your eyes were opened to something that you had not considered? It was a very basic one: conducting effective customer interviews. A couple months ago, we started with a set of features we wanted to implement, and we’ve spent a while building and refining them. After conducting customer interviews, we were able to figure out that some parts of those features were actually not ideal solutions to our problems after all. So, some pivots will be in order, but without “CodeWorks,” we would have had to learn this simple lesson even later on down the road.
What do you hope to achieve/where do you hope your company is when the 12-week accelerator ends? We hope to have a working application for iOS and Android that implements the observations we have made from customer interviews. We want to pilot it at UT before moving on to other universities.