By Danielle Bennings
Chris Lane is a Smith School student that wears many hats: entrepreneur, Fearless Founder and campus leader, just to name a few. The role we at the Dingman Center know him best for is founder and CEO of Procity, a University of Maryland service network that rewards users for doing good. Chris got the idea for Procity, during his first semester at UMD. While taking a Psychology 101 course, he learned about reciprocity; doing something good that may result in getting something good in return, but not asking for it. Chris developed Procity to combat the idea that money is the only value in society. Using his platform, you can do good in your community and receive rewards such as discounts from restaurants or ProPoints used to obtain items from the site. The company launched on September 17, 2013 and now has more than 470 users.
Chris Lane and his co-founder Dev Kavathekar enrolled in the Fearless Founders course because they loved the idea of getting school credit for working on their business. On the first day, the pair did not know what to expect. Would it be free time to work on your business? What would the lessons be like? Instead, Elana Fine quickly taught them to go back to the basics. They learned to take a step back and think carefully about their customers and the value proposition for each customer segment. As a result of taking the course, the Procity team now has a solid platform in place. Their goal for the summer has been to make the platform more sustainable to retain customers for the long haul. Learning from their extensive customer feedback, the team is also working on a more streamlined way for users to claim rewards and improved site navigation.
In addition to working on Procity, Chris was a summer Resident Director for the Smith School’s LEAD program, which provides 30 high-achieving, rising high school seniors the opportunity to explore finance, entrepreneurship, accounting, and marketing for two full weeks at UMD. Chris led and trained a team of five resident assistants, while facilitating team cohesion and managing projects behind the scenes.
This year’s LEAD program required the students to develop a business idea and create a 15-minute pitch by the end of the last week. Dingman Center staff, Danielle Bennings and Adam VanWagner, were brought in to teach courses on “Ideation” and “How to Pitch,” as well as provide coaching for the final presentations.
Chris Lane is used to juggling a lot of responsibilities. To other student entrepreneurs, he says, “don’t be afraid for your priorities to shift. One day you will be focusing on your business and the next day you are going to HAVE to focus on studying for a test. The next day you might have to focus on being the leader of an organization. Be prepared for that.”