After competing in New Venture Challenge her freshman year at CU Boulder, computer science major Andrea Chamorro is back competing as a senior with a new business concept: trAIn. The company hopes to change the way employee training is done in industry.
Q: What is your startup or business idea?
Andrea Chamorro (AC): Our company is called trAIn, as in “to train someone” and “AI”, and was founded in August 2020. We currently have 5 employees (myself, Jake Luoma, Warren Fulton, Michael Doan, and Kevin Huynh), all pursuing this as part of our Computer Science Capstone Senior Project. At trAIn, we aim to revolutionize the way technical training is done in industry. We're creating a software to ease the process of knowledge-retention from employee to employee on the key links and how-tos of doing a technical job.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
AC: An experience at an internship inspired my idea for this startup. I saw that as the new intern, there was often not much documentation or how-to guides ready for me to learn the technical aspects of my job. Often, that key information was kept by a few people who I had to scout out and ask, or people would have done it when they first joined, but had since forgotten. I kept track of the most important info that helped me do my job, and when a new intern came after me, I handed this off with a little training. Just having the key links, contacts, and tips of doing the job meant months saved the next time around. Now, we're out to start a company that makes ready-to-use solutions to help companies improve the pipeline of knowledge they use to train their employees, but standardized and faster.
Q: What is your role at your startup and how did you form your team?
AC: I am the CEO and concept-inventor. My fellow teammates and I all met within the entrepreneurial senior capstone class for the computer science department. We initially all pitched business ideas, and then it was kind of a process of scouting out who else in the class resonated with the top seven ideas in the class enough to form teams around them. I worked to make a team around the trAIn concept, and it all worked out. While a bit of work, but I definitely know a lot more about what early companies look for when hiring new members now.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in this year's New Venture Challenge (NVC)?
AC: I participated in NVC my freshman year, and I loved the environment and the people I met then. Regardless, we are required to compete in NVC as part of our capstone class, which gives us more opportunities to learn and grow, with the added benefit that our ideas might take off.
Q: What other CU Boulder academic courses and entrepreneurial resources did you take advantage of to help you build your business?
AC: We just met with loads of mentors this last week, in preparation for choosing one dedicated mentor to propel our team forward, and even met great technical mentors who could help us work through our app architecture. We've been attending the NVC workshops like the Idea Validation and IP workshops.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in running your startup? What about notable wins or successes?
AC: While we're still early in our startup process, as we get ready to find our first customer, the sales part of being an entrepreneur is really starting to become important, and maybe not something we're comfortable with quite yet. A notable win is how much feedback we've naturally received from mentors, teachers, and interviewees alike to help refine the business concept. Almost everyone seems happy to give an opinion or advice, which is great for us!
Q: What do you love about having your own company?
AC: I love being able to call myself an entrepreneur again (I did do a round of angel investment pitching in high school once) because being an entrepreneur kind of gives you that license to be extra-bold, go the extra mile, talk to anyone and really get behind an idea.
Q: What advice would you give to other students who are interested in starting their own businesses or wanting to compete in NVC?
AC: I would tell them to start as early as possible, no fear. I met a lot of the best people I would come to know in college through my freshman year competing in NVC. There's so much access to "need-to-know people" and peers, and it's fun and challenging to step a little outside your comfort zone. That's what NVC is for and people are there for you each step of the way.
Q: What is your plan for your startup after graduating? Do you still plan to work on it? If so, what are your goals?
AC: I definitely plan to continue the work started here, either in entrepreneurial form or through graduate research, if not both. The great thing is that all the market research and interviews have been great for growing our curiosity and expertise on the topic. We'll definitely be bringing a product to market before long and I know I'll definitely be working to extend the impact it has in years ahead.