Engineering Entrepreneurial Ideas
The coding, collaboration, all-nighters and all-out passion. Four York College students from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering demonstrate what it takes to turn an entrepreneur’s idea into reality.
Alexander “Smitty” Smith, Mat Jones, Rob Jones and Dan Reightneour weren’t even seniors last year when Prof. Don Hake of the College’s Computer Science program approached them with the idea of developing a beta platform for an early-stage startup called Episo. Through a personal connection with Episo Tech Advisor Greg Sampson — who has worked with York College to provide work opportunities to students through Red Lion Controls — Hake introduced the students to Episo Founder and CEO Marnie Alexander and her vision for Episo: “a SaaS (software as a service) content distribution platform where the media and entertainment industries can go to discover original audience-tested content and new talent.”
Hake says he knew an undertaking like this one would have been almost unthinkable for a group of undergraduate Computer Science and Engineering students to attempt. But the superior work that Smitty, Mat, Rob and Dan demonstrated in his software engineering course gave him the confidence to believe that they were up for this challenge.
For these four students, Episo and York College offered them a real-world opportunity that they believe no other college environment could have provided. “At other places, you may learn theory, but you don’t always have the opportunities to apply it,” Mat says. “We were lucky to have a dedicated space [the Kinsley Engineering Center’s Senior Design Room] to work in and the support and resources we needed.”
And last year, the members of Episo’s team — students included — presented their work to film schools at large Pennsylvania institutions and were met with a powerfully positive response to their platform.
“I was definitely taking a risk,” Marnie Alexander says of her decision to select the students for Episo. “But as an entrepreneur, you take risks. I had to be able to trust them enough to hand over my baby — what I had spent hours and hours of research on. I am grateful for their time, effort and knowledge to bring the Episo idea to life.”
Episo is located in a portion of the The J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship startup incubator dedicated to student ventures. As a first-class resource in the York community, The J.D. Brown Center offers entrepreneurs and existing business owners access to York College’s intellectual capital of talented faculty and students. Contact Executive Director Jeff Vermeulen to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717.815.6601.
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