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Startup Aggieland’s ‘First Look’ lets university entrepreneurs connect with community
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Startup Aggieland’s ‘First Look’ lets university entrepreneurs connect with community

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With enough charisma to fill the room, Inioluwa “Ini” Olualakija took the stage at Downtown Bryan’s historic Grand Stafford Theater on Wednesday evening to present his team’s business ideas during Startup Aggieland’s second “First Look” event.

Olualakija’s Spread Love Cycles was one of 12 diverse teams from the university-run business accelerator that presented their ideas in front of a packed crowd of attendees from around the community.

A junior multidisciplinary engineering technology major and applied mathematics minor, Olualakija said while this will be his first semester participating with Startup Aggieland, he already has seen the benefits of being engaged in the community.

“The benefit is just being in the same room as a bunch of like-minded individuals, people who are also looking for innovative ways to make the world better,” Olualakija said.

He explained that SpreadLuv Cycles — as the “first addition to the SpreadLuv brand” — is focused on converting regular bicycles into electric bicycles to improve the efficiency and ease of the riding experience with a specific emphasis on innovation, competitive pricing and “fostering an intimate customer service experience.”

“As a student myself, I understand that two things I can always use more of are time and money,” Olualakija said during his presentation. “At SpreadLuv Cycles, we’re dedicated to just that purpose — to save you time and money... we turn regular bikes into electric bikes. Now you guys know the secret. But I challenge you to think deeper than that. SpreadLuv is a movement to spread innovation, creativity and the sheer will to be different.”

Richard Lester — a clinical professor in the Department of Management at the Mays Business School and executive director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship — said the “First Look” event gives the team members the opportunity to practice pitching their ideas in a “no-pressure” environment where mentors can do their part to coach them up and help them succeed.

Shelly Brenckman, marketing coordinator for Startup Aggieland, said the event is also a way to give the community a chance to see not only the ideas being cultivated in the program, but also what ways they may be able to provide assistance.

“It gives the community a chance to pull back the curtain so they can see exactly what we do,” Brenckman said. “If there is someone in the audience who has a resource that this startup is asking for, this is an opportunity for them to get connected.”

While financial support may be the first thing that comes to mind for most, Brenckman said the needs are more often for physical resources and expertise.

“It takes a village to raise a startup, and I think we will continue to get more support by making this event easily accessible to both the community and the campus,” Brenckman said.

Moving forward, Olualakija said what his team needs most is someone who can provide experience with both bringing a product to market and developing a strong brand awareness presence in the community.

As for what keeps him motivated, Olualakija said it’s all about the big picture.

“It’s the same reason I go to class every day,” Olualakija said. “It’s about where you see yourself in the future and what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s what it boils down to.”

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of SpreadLuv.

“It takes a village to raise a startup, and I think we will continue to get more support by making this event easily accessible to both the community and the campus."

Shelly Brenckman
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