ENDVRS is a connection and collaboration platform for student launched ventures. It was built as a tool to help collegiate entrepreneurs find skilled team members from various backgrounds to round out a founding team. Like most startups, this idea stemmed from a personal pain point between myself and co-founder Jacob Moghtader. Jacob and I both experienced the issue of finding like-minded, talented counterparts to help build our ideas. It was only by a chance meeting at an internship that we connected; we quickly realized that our connection was extremely valuable, and thought that others would like to experience the same thing. Everyone should have a chance to find their complementary team members, allwing them to build and experiment with as many projects as they can. For that reason, we built ENDVRS.
We began the process of building our product and company in October of 2013, starting with many assumptions regarding what we thought our product would be. We researched the various directions we could take ENDVRS by talking with potential users and university professors, and performing competitive research on similar companies. We distilled our vision into a small product offering that would become our MVP, and began to build. Simultaneously, we began recruiting other team members to help bring ENDVRS to life. This was a difficult process, further bolstering the notion that we were onto a good idea, as we could have used our own product for this process – if only it existed.
Six months of building and tweaking later, we had the opportunity to pitch for a spot in StartupUCLA’s 2014 summer accelerator program. We were accepted, and spent our summer at full speed trying to make our vision a reality. During the 10-week program, we had the privilege to speak with dozens of top entrepreneurs and pitch to Silicon Valley’s top investment firms, including Lightspeed Ventures and DFJ. It was an invaluable opportunity to be exposed to the true environment of startups and catch a glimpse of what it’s like to work toward building a real company.
The real challenge for me during the 10 weeks of the accelerator was adapting to my ever-changing role as co-founder. My many hats included UI designer, UX designer, business development and marketing, researcher, front-end developer, and team leader. To sum it up, I would consider myself a Product Manager for ENDVRS. It was my responsibility to help analyze our opportunity and devise the best solutions in collaboration with all departments within our team. I was forced beyond my comfort zone daily to learn new skills and fill in wherever I could help. Working under tight deadlines and fostering an environment of rapid iteration was a regular routine for the ENDVRS team, and we are all better because of it.
We continued to work on this project for a few months following the conclusion of the accelerator, but with a tough business model and waning momentum due to the busy schedules of our co-founders, we sidelined the project. ENDVRS was a great opportunity that pushed each of us to a level of learning and productivity I wish to continue moving forward. We gave it a shot with a real idea, and put ourselves in front of the entrepreneurial community’s best and brightest. My experience with ENDVRS was a learning experience that taught me to push the boundaries of what I can accomplish. It was only the beginning, and it makes me hungry for more.