In the recent news of those selected for the Fall 2020 LaunchPad Fellowship by the Blackstone Launchpad and Techstars, we decided to get an insiders look at one of the startups selected; SARU is a startup that was created by a team of UCR graduates and students, Mahmood Shaheen, Kyle Stark, Nathaniel Ortiz, Sebastian Mukuria, Toluwani(Semi) Cole, and Jakeb Tivey. All who have the intention of creating a recycling program that incentivizes recycling by making payment instant and creating more accessible recycling units that would even encourage the busiest of college students to recycle.
I interviewed the main co-founders of the startup Mahmood and Kyle about the whole process of developing a startup and how they came across Launchpad. Their answer networking;
“Well it was just meeting people in certain classes and asking professors who to reach out to and eventually I [Kyle] got to Jay Gilbert [Instructor and Entrepreneur in Residence] was running Creat’R Lab Cafe and we did a little pitch there and we won some money for our prototype. From there we met Mai[Entrepreneur in Residence and Blackstone LaunchPad Campus Director] and ... found out more about Launchpad … and we just used Launchpad’s connections to help us grow.”
That initial funding let the SARU team feel confident in their idea. It made the startup seem like a tangible thing that continues to attract investors to this day. Launchpad along with funding helped to start a collaboration with GCAP otherwise known as the Green Campus Action Plan, which if Covid hadn’t happened this quarter, would have helped to initiate population testing of the product at UCR.
When asked about Launchpad both Kyle and Mahmood answered similarly. Mahmood said he felt very encouraged by Mai when they had reached their low points and felt that she helped push them forward. For Kyle he felt the same but pointed out; “In the beginning, there were very few people to network with but now I feel like a lot more people know about Launchpad.”
With the current situation of the pandemic, they have had problems come up but as Mahmood commented “Life in a startup, there is always a problem to solve, like literally every day there is a problem.” So as with most of the problems they’ve encountered they didn’t give up, they just worked around it. They currently are finalizing the prototype to test it next month at Goodwins , an all-organic store and market located four minutes away on foot from campus. They are also in the process of searching for people who can fill the position of a social media intern who would be managing their social media accounts on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter which can be found by searching up @sarurecycling. They are also in need of a student who has experience in computer science specifically app development, object recognition, and machine learning. To apply and get more information find them on Connect’R platform.
UCR's Office of Technology Partnerships, with The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars, delivers Launchpad at UCR to help students succeed in entrepreneurship and their careers. Whether you have an idea, have a startup, or just curious about entrepreneurship, LaunchPad @ UCR offers a variety of resources at all stages of idea and venture development. To learn more visit LaunchPad @ UCR or contact Mai Temraz (email@example.com).