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Start-up: Golden Eye Recruiting, an online platform allowing high school football players to showcase their talent for recruiters.
When they won $10,000 at a business plan competition in October for Golden Eye Recruiting, Will Mannie, Raleigh Fatoki and Chinedu Okpala thought they might be on to something.
A few months after the competition, the three have decided to take the plunge and pursue their start-up full-time after they graduate. Once it launches, their service aims to help high school football players build athletic profiles, easily viewable by college recruiters who buy access to the product.
“As an economics major, you learn that working for somebody else is not the best way to accumulate wealth,” Mannie said.
For at least one member of the team, pursuing the start-up full-time wasn’t part of his original career plan.
“I fully expected to go to medical school,” Fatoki said, but added, “I started putting more and more time into Golden Eye.”
Fatoki gained admission to the University of Illinois’ medical school in Chicago, but has deferred his start date for at least a year. “My parents are pretty upset with me, but they see the time I’m putting in and the drive.”
The team will start by building the platform out in D.C., which they estimate will take just a few months because they’ve already built contacts with high school athletic programs and coaches in the District. “This could happen anywhere, but it’ll happen much faster here,” Fatoki said.
Tim Richards, 26
American University’s Kogod School of Business, MBA student
Start-up: Reefcam, broadcasting video from coral reefs
After working for a year as an environmental scientist in the Everglades, Falls Church native Tim Richards realized “being a scientist wasn’t for me.”
So he came to the Kogod School to combine his passion for the environment with an interest in business — and two years later, as graduation approaches, he’s doing just that.
Richards and a handful of other Kogod students founded Reefcam, a start-up which broadcasts live, high-definition video feeds of coral reefs around the world. Once it launches publicly next month, any subscribing customer with an Internet connection will be able to access the feed, which can be projected on walls or screens in hotels or corporate lobbies as decoration, Richards said.
“We’re trying to put coral reefs in front of people who don’t think about them every day. Whether you care about the environment or not, it’s still a great view.”
Richards and his team have partners in Australia, the Caribbean, and Florida, who are responsible for setting up video cameras near the reefs.
Richards is the only member of his team who will work on Reefcam full-time after graduation, and he plans to stay in the D.C. area. “There’s so much here that lends itself useful — from the science world to nonprofits to media companies,” he said.