Max Young is a junior studying computer science and a solopreneur who has a passion for startups and building awesome products. His passion led him to compete in CU Boulder's New Venture Challenge (NVC) in 2019 with his business idea for PartyFavor, a smartphone app that is aimed at empowering individuals with the gift of safety. Now known as Hooot, he's back competing in NVC this year with his sights set on the Championships.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
MY: My startup idea is to help solve the problem of sexual assault on college campuses and to help make college a much safer experience. Hooot is a smartphone app aimed at empowering individuals with the gift of safety. Dangerous situations can present themselves anywhere at anytime—what if a campus safety pole isn't quite as close as you need it to be? With Hooot, you'll have access to the help you need right in your pocket. As your personal mobile bodyguard, Hooot jumps into action once activated by gesture or code word, sending a text message and pin-dropped GPS location to an unlimited number of emergency contacts.
I was inspired when I read that 26 percent of all women in college will experience sexual assault at some point in their college career. I felt like there wasn’t a good solution to this problem so I decided to come up with my own solution. I was also inspired by it because I have been harassed when walking to class and felt like there needed to be a way to contact my friends in case I was in danger.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in this year's New Venture Challenge (NVC)?
MY: I decided to compete in NVC this year because I competed in 2020, and I had a great time. I love the connections you can make with other students who are building awesome companies and the connections you can make with the boulder startup community. The other reason I decided to compete in NVC is because it provides a lot of great resources for Hooot to grow.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in running your startup? What about notable wins or successes?
MY: My biggest challenge in running my startup is that I am a solo founder. This means I have to deal with all aspects of the business. I have to be writing code, working on marketing, growing the business and talking to users every week. There is a lot to juggle but I have been enjoying the process and I have learned a lot.
Some notable wins I have had was launching our product, partnering with sororities at universities across the country and getting press coverage on Hooot. I have also been gaining traction with our users so that is super awesome as well!
Q: What do you love about having your own company?
MY: I love that I am able to work on a problem that I am super passionate about. I love talking to users and building products that I believe will add value to their lives.
Q: What advice would you give to other students who are interested in starting their own businesses or wanting to compete in NVC?
MY: One of the biggest pieces of advice that I would give to anyone starting their own business is that you have to be super committed. There will be a lot of challenges and failures along the way, and you will need to have the perseverance to push through it. My other piece of advice would be to work hard. You hear it all the time but once you start your own business you will see why people say that. It will take a lot more work than you originally expect but that hard work is super fulfilling.
Q: What is your plan for your startup after graduating? Do you still plan to work on it? If so, what are your goals?
MY: I want to continue working on Hooot after graduation. I am currently halfway done with my junior year and I am taking a gap semester. This means I now have two more years in college, so graduation is still quite a while away. Once I graduate I plan on continuing to pursue this problem until I have found the best solution. Hopefully it is with my current product but if I discover there is a better solution I will build that out as well.