Born in Dorms: Kip Solutions, from student startup to acquired company

3 Day Startup explores the journey of student entrepreneurs from all over the world in the ongoing blog series, Born in Dorms. Universities are ripe for more innovation: the combination of bright students, open information, and more accessible tech creates an environment where student companies can flourish better than ever before. These highly motivated and driven students share their successes, failures, and everything in between as they navigate the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship in their local communities. Read more about each student’s unique perspective on building a viable company in and around campus.

Co-founders Sonia and Patrick at NYSE

Patrick Ip (right), UChicago, Co-founder of Kip Solutions

Kip Solutions logoPatrick Ip is a senior political science major at the University of Chicago. He founded
Kip Solutions in September 2011 with Kavya Shankar (Harvard ’14) and Sonia Chokshi (Tufts ’14).

Kip Solutions helps social impact companies disseminate their message using social media and the web. Kip Solutions aims to magnify the charitable work that organizations do by helping them re-work their digital image and strategy to maximize their impact. Current clients include, AMIS Cameroon, a hybrid profit and not-for-profit that bridges the gap between farmers and consumers to reduce hunger and poverty for millions of Cameroonians.

“It was important to our initial momentum that on day one, we had paying clients. Kip Solutions wasn’t a business idea that we sat around a Starbucks trying to come up with, but instead, by clients coming to us seeking our skills to solve their problems. After signing our first four clients, we realized there was a larger market to scale our talents and help more people,” says Ip.

In 2012, Kip Solutions was accepted into Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center Accelerator Program and received $10,000 in seed investment. Acceptance into the accelerator also landed them the opportunity to visit angels in Boulder, Seattle, and San Francisco. “Over the course of ten weeks, we were given access to mentors, weekly workshops, and one-on-one mentorship with Booth professors,” Ip says. “Jonathan Allan, Associate Director at the Polsky Accelerator, was huge for our startup. He has a great open door policy with meeting with startups.”

Ip also reached out to his personal contacts for advice and mentorship, such as his former boss, David Hiller, the CEO of the McCormick Foundation, “David introduced our company at our demo day and helped us better understand how to serve foundation clients.”

With the help of some great mentors and by focusing on solving their customer’s problems — Kip Solutions achieved some major accomplishments within the last two years. They were consecutively recognized in the annual Kairos 50 list as one of the most innovative student-run businesses in the world for 2012 and 2013, named by Inc. Magazine as one of the coolest college startups in 2012, and among other things, included in the Empact100 List.

Today Kip Solutions reaches a huge milestone with the announcement of its acquisition by Post+Beam, a full-service communications firm. The acquisition brings Ip on as an associate in Post+Beam’s growing social media and social causes practice. Kip Solutions will continue to run as a separate brand until June 2013 when it will be integrated into Post+Beam. Ip has also dedicated half of his acquisition deal to charitable causes including the J.Luce Foundation and a scholarship for Modesto High School in Modesto, CA, his alma mater.

Ip says some of the biggest lessons he learned during this journey include, “Don’t surround yourself with startups — instead spend time with your customer, you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most, and think carefully about your team and how you spend your time.”

About 3 Day Startup

3 Day Startup (3DS) teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment. In addition to supporting budding entrepreneurs, 3DS programs cultivate entrepreneurial communities that contribute to the growth of entrepreneurship ecosystems in the regions surrounding these university programs. This proven program provides students the tools they need to start successful companies. To date, more than 39 companies have come out of 3DS to collectively raise $9.5 million in investor capital and more than a dozen have been accepted to prestigious incubators and accelerators such as Y Combinator and TechStars.

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