Student Innovation Incubator
SII Success Stories
Since 2013, the Student Innovation Incubator has housed over 100+ student-run companies that started as a dream. Students entrepreneurs have developed competitive businesses by committing to the programming and mentorship available at the incubator. These SII Success Stories are an in-depth look into the journey of SII alumni - from idea to business.
William Rondon - STUBY
"I decided to take action and start my business based off on a problem that I identified personally and within the USF student population. It can be difficult for incoming students to find study partners because they are not acquainted with other students. Therefore, I decided to create an app that solved this problem not only for myself but also for my fellow USF students.
Before starting the program, I was extremely excited to join an organization that promoted entrepreneurship and helped me develop my business acumen. As an engineer, my general knowledge of how to start a company was minimal, so having the potential leadership of SII was something I was looking forward to. During the program, I felt very comfortable in the environment SII provides. In the incubator, you get to meet like-minded students who are also trying to start companies. It is very motivating to surround yourself with students who carry a similar mindset.
My biggest challenge was taking my app from concept to product. Early on, I was focused on developing the business side of the app and failed to dedicate the necessary time to develop the code. As a result, my team and I rearranged our priorities, focusing on delivering our MVP as soon as possible.
Currently, my app is fully launched on the app store, and I am incredibly grateful for the advice, friendships, and experience I gained on my path to delivering Stuby. In starting my company, I learned a lot about why startups are so hard to make successful, and the obstacles along the way have truly helped me grow personally and professionally.
One piece of advice I would give is to be fully committed to your company if you want to succeed. A lot of obstacles will pop up; therefore, full commitment is necessary to power through those obstacles.
During this year, SII helped and supported me through access to advisors and other entrepreneurs. Along my path to creating my app, I always had a resource within SII to reach out to who could help me come to the right decision."
Larsha Johnson - BITS4BOTS LLC
"Searching for a product or service that has yet to be found inspired me to create a few product designs. In the pursuit to introduce electronic hardware to young students, the idea of kid-friendly printed circuit boards developed. A few years back, the main goal was electronic component retail, but it has now evolved to do it yourself kits and entry-level kits that will be compatible with open-source platforms like Arduino IDE / CLI and Adafruit Circuit Python.
I felt nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect or what type of resources would benefit the startup of myself as a student entrepreneur. During the program, I began to gain confidence. I felt that my ideas made sense and had a purpose in the STEM ecosystem.
My biggest challenge was team building and pitch presentations. I have had a few close family members join the startup to assist as needed and support events. I am currently working to become better at presenting products, research, and ideas. I understand how exciting it is to have a product idea but much more important to convey those ideas to investors or other people who may be curious about your work.
I am happy I decided to participate in the USF Connect SII program. I feel connected to a new network of entrepreneurs and the resources to go to the next level. SII introduced many opportunities to connect with investors, grants, other student companies, and more. The Bootcamp series also provided valuable information to cover the essential to-dos of registering my business with the state and federal entities.
Do it! Getting out of your comfort zone can take you further than you’ll ever know. You’ll find that the person next to you may be feeling doubtful or unsure about starting their dream company as well: but if you are passionate and the idea keeps surfacing, that’s the universe’s way of saying “Do it!"
Adriana Florez- Yummi Foods Co
"I have always wanted to have more freedom in my life, to be able to do the things that I enjoy the most, like helping others become their best versions of themselves, spend time with family and friends, travel, learn new things and enjoy nature. Especially the beach. And by having your own business, you can enjoy more freedom to do what feeds your heart and soul. I found a way to combine some of my passions like helping people become better versions of themselves by creating delicious and healthy food.
I was excited and very happy to count on the support and guidance and training from many professionals at USF. At the Student Innovation Incubator, I found the resources I knew I needed to make my dream come true. I am the third generation of Entrepreneurs in my family. I was born and raised in Colombia. I also hold a degree in Industrial Engineering. However, the mix of work experience and my engineering training gave me the drive and essential knowledge to start Yummi Foods. I realized I needed to learn how to do business here in the USA. That is why I enrolled back in school. USF was and continues to be the perfect fit! The teachers and resources are invaluable, the staff is very supportive and always goes above and beyond to support you in making your dream come true and help you dream bigger. To expand your horizons and visualize a higher goal that will positively impact the local community and more.
I felt supported, I felt that I grew exponentially, not only my business but myself as well. It was a significant time in my life. Living the entrepreneurial life is challenging, but having the program's support, the other entrepreneurs enrolled not only in the program but the ones that have an office in USF Connect, and the teachers and the staff was priceless. We shared lots of hours working together while enjoying coffee and yummies! It was really awesome to work along with other like-minded people. The ones that can completely understand your why's. While other people might think you are out of your mind for working so hard: working long hours and most weekends, might seem crazy for other people (and in a way it is), but when you are committed to make a difference in the world all the hard work is really worth it.
There have been many, and you need to stay focused on your goal. The most relevant has been regarding the necessary license to operate the business and the need of my customers. The primary purpose of Yummi Foods Co. is to bring smiles to people's faces with delicious food that will nourish their bodies. I started making gluten-free oven-baked empanadas, but I hit a roadblock with the licenses and the need. How do I overcome it? I pivot it! I chose another of my delicious and nutritious recipes that match the market need, and I was a perfect fit for the licenses needed. If you are willing to listen to what the challenge is telling you, it will always help you pivot in the right direction! The direction that will allow you to impact more people's lives.
Always wake up with a grateful mind and heart. Keep your goal connected to a higher purpose of serving others, make a daily list of high yield activities that will bring you closer to your goal that day. Smile, meditate, work out, eat healthy, and smile some more!
It was key to Yummi Foods' growth and success. Yummi Foods Co. went from a dream, an idea in my mind to have products online and retails stores in the Tampa Bay area. SII supported me with knowledge, seminars, training, classes, connections, office space, mentors, advisors, and free coffee! I will be forever grateful.
If you are serious about making a difference in the world with your entrepreneur ideas, joining SII will be the best decision you will ever make. Although you need to be really committed to your passion and dream because it is hard work and they will give you their best if you give your best. Don't think twice; start today! Start now making a difference in people's lives. You have a lot to offer, and the world needs all the great things that we as entrepreneurs can offer."