Desha Elliot

Desha Elliot: PB7 App

Tell us about your business/concept.

We started out with the idea to increase academic improvement among student athletes, which became the concept that we came to INKUBATOR with. While I was heading up the role as the editor in chief for an educational magazine called “Be Your Own Success Story”, I was covering a story about technology and education. I was put into ideation and brainstorming sessions where people were coming up with solutions that could involve technology to solve problems, so I found myself being curious and wanting to be more engaged with technology, even further than I was in my role as editor in chief. I went to an event where we were supposed to figure out how to improve teaching with tech; they put us together in teams and we had to come up with ideas and then we had to pitch them, this was around the time of the Celebration Ball, which is a championship game for colleges, so it had to do with improving GPAs for student athletes. The idea that I and my team pitched was the winning idea, and so from there, our team became very excited about the fact that our idea sounded great on paper and that other people loved it too. From there we put our heads together to see what we could do to make our ideas come to life.

What attracted you to the INKUBATOR? Why was it a good fit for you/your idea?

The phrase that comes to mind is “there’s no place like home”. With NKU being my alma mater, I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Organizational Leadership, NKU was instrumental in teaching me what it meant to look at an organization, no matter if it was a startup or a fortune 500 company, just looking at it from a 360 view. One of my mentors reached out to me, Dr. Eric Jackson, and sent me an email telling me to check out INKUBATOR as it might be a great fit for our team. At the time, I had been going full force trying to get what we could, for about a year, for the app and the organization, trying to build something sustainable, something that wasn’t just a great idea but also a great company.

How did the INKUBATOR help you bring your idea to life?

While we had a makeshift demo already before we came to INKUBATOR, INKUBATOR really tested our theories and hypotheses about what a sustainable business model would be, as well as the direction the app should go and what features it should have. I think sometimes you have so many different great ideas about what a product should be doing and all the features, and the INKUBATOR taught us to really simplify to the core of what you’re doing, who you’re serving, and how you’re going to reveal it to the public.

What is the most important lesson you learned during the process?

I think the most important lesson is finding what the core of your company is, what the value or the mission is. When I made the discovery [during the INKUBATOR] that ultimately we were guiding athletes beyond athletics, then the lightbulb went off again, but this time it busted.

How has the INKUBATOR changed your outlook on entrepreneurship?

I’ve always been an advocate for being an entrepreneur, but if I had to say how it changed I would say that it helped me see how to be agile and how to understand what it really means to have a lean startup method, or how to do more with less. As entrepreneurs if you’ve never had substantial success before or if you’re lacking in capital, and not just financial capital but also relationship capital, there are certain ways that you have to move, knowledge that you have to get, relationships you have to develop, things you have to learn so that you can move efficiently and you can move quickly, and if necessary fail quickly, so that you can learn what you did wrong instead of waiting years and years to figure that out and you’re so invested that you almost find yourself in a position to where you can’t move forward. It strengthened my love of entrepreneurship but also gave me a bit more discernment and shrewdness.  

How has INKUBATOR impacted your life?

I’m director of HR and Strategy for a company called Rap Plug, which is a LinkedIn for the hiphop industry, it’s like the number one networking platform for hiphop. The founders had to go through an accelerator process, so when we’re strategizing and trying to figure out how to leverage what we have and how we can leverage our people, even now we have 30-40 interns working for us maybe 10 hours a week at least, we need to find out how to leverage these people, while we’re still fundraising, and we’re a still new company, and we’re building partnerships. The INKUBATOR, in addition to NKU’s overall training, helped me understand what the CEO is thinking, and all the things he has to conquer, and it helps me be more secure in my role so that when I suggest things or I want to plan and implement things, I can do that in a lean and efficient way.