Welcome to the Tiger Launch Young Entrepreneur Spotlight! This is an interview series where we interview young entrepreneurs from across the country on why they do what the do and what has made them successful. Enjoy and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for future updates!
Oculogx is a startup focused on helping workers streamline the process of finding and picking orders inside massive e-commerce warehouses through augmented reality. They were one of the top three pitches at our Chicago Regional and will be competing in the Finals in April. We got a chance to talk with co-founder, Charu Thomas, who is currently studying Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. Find out more here: http://oculogx.com/
TL: Is this your first pitch competition/if not, what else have you competed in and how is tigerlaunch different?
CT: No, we won second place at the Microsoft Imagine Cup, won Atlanta Startup Battle, and have been finalists at multiple other pitch competitions. TigerLaunch is different because it focuses exclusively on student-entrepreneurs. In addition, mentorship is a huge takeaway from TigerLaunch. I got to talk to 3 mentors, and every one of them was attentive, kind, and patient, and had amazing feedback for us.
TL: What has been your biggest failure to date and what have you learned from it?
CT: At the beginning of Oculogx, we spent a lot of time in talks with really large warehouses. One of the big failures on our part was wasting time in these talks, because they most likely were very unfavorable terms for us or we would spend a lot of time trying to convince them. In hindsight, it would've been more valuable to spend time building in a real environment. It kills a ton of morale if you're banking on a deal for 6 months to a year only to have the terms be fatal for a nascent company. I think one of the big takeaways I have learned is to start small. Launching in a small warehouse is a lot better idea than waiting for months and months for a big customer to work out. And you’ll learn a ton too!
TL: Who is the entrepreneur you are inspired by the most?
CT: Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is an entrepreneur who I really look up to. When I was considering starting a company, I heard her story at a dinner, and was immediately blown away. Her perseverance, especially when she was continually rejected, is so inspiring. I really look up to her commitment to her goal. She also happens to be an Atlanta entrepreneur, and I grew up here!
TL: What would you do with the $15,000 if you won?
CT: If we had the honor of winning, all of the money would go into developing Oculogx further. We are currently in the process of launching at local warehouses. In addition, we've gotten a lot of feedback from warehouses who want a real deployable product, so we're working really hard to get it to them ASAP, and the money would help us accelerate our development efforts.
TL: What was the most exciting question you heard from the judges?
CT: I really enjoyed the question about drones. I've heard a little bit about drones in this space, and in our lab we've had quite a ideas of how interesting technology could solve problems we face, so it was interesting to hear about it!
TL: Are you excited for finals?
CT: Very excited! I really enjoyed meeting everyone from the Chicago regionals and I'm excited to meet new people at Finals as well!