Boiler Startups
Inventors Start Early

Inventors Start Early

Consumer science student Rick Li (second from left) was part of a team that created a mobile printing app called UPrint.
Photo provided

Two consumer science students were finalists in the 2015 Boiler Mini-Accelerator Competition, an intensive, eight-week event sponsored by the Anvil co-working space and known as "the Boiler." Working with local mentors, Boiler teams formulate a business plan, hone their products, and prepare their "pitch." This year's teams vied for up to $10,000 in startup funding.

First-year master's student Lukas Ingersoll co-founded "Adeptee," an application for connecting curious people to subject matter experts. "I wanted to apply my understanding of consumer behavior to the technical world," he says.

Ingersoll's team made the Boiler top five, and he learned a lot about starting a business. His advice? "Take your new project seriously, but not too seriously. And if something doesn't work out, don't give up." Ingersoll's next idea: a tech startup consulting firm in Latin America.

Consumer science major Rick Li was another Boiler contender. Li is CEO for UPrint, a student-run company whose popular app lets students print to any campus printer from their mobile phone.

Li joined UPrint as a marketing expert. "I packaged UPrint for the public," Li says. "I showed the programming team ways to connect with students." So far, more than 2,000 people have signed up for UPrint, and users printed more than 10,000 documents last semester. UPrint placed third in the Boiler competition.

"In August, we'll push out our premium model," Li says. "And currently we're beta testing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."


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