Harrison Bolin, a technology, arts and media sophomore, founded his web company Atheon Hosting in 2017 when we was just in high school. After attending speaker and pitch events on campus and receiving funding from the Get Seed Funding program, Harrison has grown his business consistently over the years. Here's how he did it:
Q: What does your startup do?
A: My startup, Atheon Hosting, provides web development and web hosting services to small and medium sized businesses. As a web host, it is our job to give websites a place to live on the internet! So if you need a website don't hesitate to find us.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
A: I have been creating websites since my freshman year of high school when I discovered that the online homework software would let you setup your own website. Since then I have worked with dozens of clients to create websites to help them expand their own businesses, but I noticed some concerning trends with other web hosting companies. Many of the most popular ones would overcharge for simple services, or even charge for things that can be done completely for free! I wanted to provide a better experience for my own web development clients and so I decided to start my own web hosting company.
Q: What is your role at your startup?
A: I am the owner and head technician for my company. I manage everything from the finances to client relations to operations. The hardest thing about my role has been learning all the different skills that go into creating a successful web service business. In a normal day I'll be managing invoices and then updating software on a client's site. There is a lot of fun variety!
Q: What CU Boulder entrepreneurial resources did you take advantage of to help you build your business? How did they help you in your startup journey?
A: I've always loved being inspired by the various talks and pitch events hosted by CU Boulder about entrepreneurship, but by far the largest contributor for Atheon Hosting was the Get Seed Funding group. There are a lot of initial costs to starting a business like this, from servers to domain names, and I could not have scaled this far without their help.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in running your startup? What about notable wins or successes?
A: The largest challenge so far has been learning the deep technical knowledge needed to make sure that my business is successful. It is our job to make sure client's sites are secure, running well, and not encountering any technical issues. I had really underestimated the amount of work that goes into managing a hosting business, but I have learned a lot in the past year.
As for successes, I think the largest one isn't a business milestone or financial win, but the fact that our business gets to contribute in huge ways to multiple charities. For example, the iHouse.org website was developed by me and hosted by Atheon Hosting at a discount. Being able to aid in their mission to connect and support refugees in their area has been such a cool experience.
Q: What do you love about having your own company?
A: I love being able to set my own schedule. In college it is very hard to maintain a full-time job in your field, but by owning my own business I can get the best of both worlds. I can continue to expand my education here at CU while also working hard in the field I'll continue working in out of college.
Q: What advice would you give to other students who are interested in starting their own businesses?
A: My advice would be to set definite boundaries on your business life and your personal life. Hard work and tenacity are important, but there is a lot of toxicity in the "hustle-all-day" culture that I think can negativitely affect your education and business. Define times you won't check email or answer the phone, and make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, and time to rest. There is stress in building a business, so don't burn yourself out by letting your business override other parts of your life. That said, there are some times when you need to buckle down and just get to work.
Q: What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
A: I wish I knew more about the various entrepreneurship resources on campus! I have been singing the praises of the Get Seed Funding program ever since I was generously awarded seed money from them. College is one of the few times in your life where starting a business has significantly less risk, so take advantage of the things we have access to on campus and get building!