This week, Dingman Center Marketing Graduate Assistant, Grant Lee, caught up with Osvaldo Bianchi for the third interview of Fearless Founders series. Let’s see what they had to say.
Grant Lee (GL): Hi Osvaldo, nice to meet you. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Osvaldo Bianchi (OB): I am a freshman majoring in electrical engineering. I was born in Argentina and grew up in Brazil. I came to the U.S. in 2000, and the first place I lived was in Florida. Now I am at the University of Maryland.
GL: How did you get involved with the Dingman Center?
OB: I was in the Startup Shell and people there told me about Innovation Fridays. I always have lots of ideas. One day I said to myself, why not try it! Then I began to get involved. People in the Dingman Center critiqued my ideas a lot, but that helped me to get rid of some unrealistic ideas. What usually happened is that after each session, I come back with another idea.
GL: Describe your business idea. What is the problem and what is your solution?
OB: My Company is called Viip. The problem that I have found is through personal observation. When I went to concerts in South America, there were always long lines, and it was common to see people using fast passes. However, I haven’t seen anything like this here, and I wanted to create something similar. My solution is that customers in a venue who pay a “premium” price would be able to walk in and not wait in line. One of the important ideas of this service is that the price depends on what venue you want to get into. The price someone would pay in College Park would be much lower then a venue in Washington D.C. One of the important mindsets that I have is that innovation starts with empathy. Having a deep connection with the people who are your customers is essential. So what I am willing to pay is what the average customer would be willing to pay.
GL: What is your goal for the business?
OB: My goal is to become something that evolves to be a successful startup, keeps the momentum, and eventually gets seed funding and potential for growth.
GL: Do you have any partners?
OB: Currently I have a developer partner. His name is Jackson Geller, son of Entrepreneur-in-Residence Harry Geller. I work on business networking and he does platform development.
GL: I know it is difficult to be an entrepreneur, what challenges have you encountered so far?
OB: One of the challenges that I have faced is finding partners.I need to show others that I am serious about my business. Because I am young, I also need to show them I am mature enough to pursue the business. Another challenge is to build trust. Often times, it is not just the idea that makes it a viable business, but the trust that you gave built to make it possible. My focus right now is to work on one venue, Cornerstone Bar & Grill in College Park. Cornerstone has the biggest line in the area. It has the biggest hurdle so far.
GL: What have you learned from the Fearless Founders program so far?
OB: This spring, I enrolled in the Fearless Founders Hatch course. The first couple weeks we mostly focused on the “client research”. We needed to do five interviews per week for potential clients. The interviews helped me learn how to find clients. I went to bars in the College Park area and reached out to people standing in lines. I asked them questions like: “How long have you been waiting?”; ”How much are you willing to pay to walk in without waiting in line?”; and “Do you have any suggestions for me?”. These definitely helped me a lot to generate insights from customers.
GL: How has Fearless Founders helped you as a student?
OB: Fearless Founders helped me to better structure problems and ask the right questions. For example, originally one of my question to potential customers was “would you be willing to pay $10 dollars for this service?” But after joining the program, I have learned that I should let customers tell me how much they want to pay, so I revised it to ”What would you pay for this service?” Small things like this can make a big difference. Also, by speaking with Harry Geller I understood the importance of networking. I’ve learned a lot from him.
GL: Is there anything else that you would like say to our readers?
OB: Sure. Many people say that freshmen do not know what to do in their first year. I think those people are wrong. I think freshman year is the time for people to try without being afraid of making mistakes. By doing so they can keep narrowing down their interests and find what they really want to do.
Osvaldo Bianchi is a student at the University Of Maryland pursuing Electrical Engineering with a focus on entrepreneurship. He is a member of the Startup Shell, an on campus startup incubator. Osvaldo is originally from Argentina and has lived in three countries over the span of ten years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or Osvaldobianchi.com.
Grant Lee is a second year full-time MBA student focused on Marketing at Smith School of Business. Prior to Smith, he had four year experiences in retail marketing and sales management. He is passionate about sports, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is currently seeking career opportunities in sports and marketing management. To know more about him, check out his blog: mrgrantlee.com