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.
Before Jeff Bargmann returned to school to pursue his MBA at the University of Michigan at age 24, he already had some work under his belt in building and selling software products. In high school he developed two products that garnered a good deal of downloads and recognition from sites such as CNET: Fences, a program that helps you organize your desktop, and ObjectDock, an animated dock for windows.
Bargmann is now finishing up his last semester at the University of Michigan and working on a new venture, PhotoSocial, which he found in January 2012.
PhotoSocial is an upgraded photo gallery for the iPhone that instantly organizes a messy collection, and lets users exchange photos privately with friends. “The problem is phones today are great at taking photos, but awful for helping organize and looking back,” Bargmann says, “PhotoSocial solves this pain by being everything that iPhoto for the iPhone should’ve been, combined with all that the private social network Path has aspired to be.”
Currently, Bargmann is the only member of this venture doing everything from code development to graphic design and business development. “I rely on friends, family and the fantastic Ann Arbor university network to help keep me in the right direction,” he says.
Besides the support from his parents and his fiance, Bargmann says mentorship from the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) and its Executive Director, Doug Neal, have been tremendous in guiding him through the creation of PhotoSocial.
PhotoSocial was also accepted into TechArb, the University of Michigan student accelerator. This program connected them to mentors like Amy Klinke, the Director of Small Business Initiatives for the CFE and local entrepreneur, Will Stone. “Amy and Will have helped me stay organized and connected me to the right people both inside the university and out,” says Bargmann.
He also says that his MBA education has been critical in helping him understand the marketplace, “Advanced Competitive Analysis, Bargaining and Influence, and Strategies for Growth have been the most insightful courses of my business career, as well as Business Law during my Rochester Institute of Technology Computer Science undergrad.”
Some big milestones PhotoSocial has reached this year include, completing an initial beta and traveling to San Francisco for a month to validate their product and meet tech influencers. They also received some recognition in November during TechCrunch’s Detroit Meetup and just launched their first release this January.
Success for Bargmann has been made possible through a combination of things, including networking and education — which in his opinion go hand in hand. “When imagining PhotoSocial, I figured out that if I wanted to succeed in the long-run, I needed to find other smart people. Engaging in this process has changed my life, as now almost every day I meet people who have incredible talents and passion of their own to share,” he says, “These people come in all stages of life, but all share that drive to simply make great things happen. This to me is the power of the university and why I’m proud to be building my startup in this phenomenal collaborative environment.”
Bargmann says goals for PhotoSocial this year include, continuing to build a team, taking investment in order to help strengthen their megaphone, and being prepared to quickly grow their infrastructure.
“Our biggest challenge this year will be ensuring our message is heard. I’m a believer that the cream rises to the top, but at the same time there’s so much noise in this market that people tend to tune out,” Bargmann says, “I’ve seen the rest and I won’t mention any by name, because they’re all doing the same wrong thing, and they keep doing this same wrong thing over and over. We’re hoping we can bust through this and be noticed as a intuitive service that’s useful from the start, and only gets more useful as friends join in.”
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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Student Startup Madness (SSM) is an exciting nationwide tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups, culminating with the “Entrepreneurial Eight” national finals at SXSW Interactive. (SSM is an official program of SXSW and SXSW Startup Village.) Learn more