Notefu.ly, a cloud-based productivity tool and mobile application that allows users to capture, share, communicate and collaborate on bite-sized pieces of information and memories across all of their digital devices has been downloaded in the iTunes store only about…4 million times.
The app, co-founded by Taseen Peterson, Mark Peterson, and Cameron Smith, won the 2013–14 National Student Startup Madness Finals competition.Taseen, who pitched onstage, was a student at Seton Hall University and the CEO of Tap Factory Apps at the time.
Competing against 7 other semifinalists in a recognized pitch competition on a national stage, Taseen expected to be grilled by tough judges from Turner Broadcasting, New York Angels, Quintessence Multimedia, and DuBois, Bryant & Campbell. He knew the stakes were high, and so utilized a secret weapon: extreme preparedness.
Taseen: “We’re going to South By. This is one of the largest tech platforms on the planet. I don’t want to go out there and embarrass myself, embarrass the company. We really have to prepare…I pitched and pitched and pitched everyday. I recorded myself. I had other people critique it and prepared as best as I could.”
All that preparation resulted in a win. And that win resulted in Taseen being contacted by media outlets and becoming an authority figure in the app development scene:
Taseen: “Winning the competition made me an authority. I had so many other speaking engagements, speaking opportunities having come from South By, having won a nationally recognized pitch competition in the same place that Twitter was launched and so many other start-ups.
After having won that pitch competition I was hit up by Inc. Magazine, some local publications, Business Insider hit me up. Everyone wanted to speak. I received so much attention and good publicity, as well as other connections that I had made with the judges, some of which I’m still in touch with today. This was three, four years ago maybe and some of the judges I’m still in touch with today.”
Taseen leveraged this media attention and the success of winning SSM to further his status as an entrepreneur and speaker. Currently, Taseen is still the CEO of Tap Factory Apps, and he has also launched a new venture: GovPilot,a web-based management platform developed exclusively for local government that replaces paper processes with digital automation.
And yet, what happened to be one of the biggest opportunities Taseen had as a student entrepreneur was almost one he missed. Notefu.ly almost missed the cutoff time; the team submitted their application with less than an hour to spare!
Taseen’s advice to students considering applying to Student Startup Madness and other pitch competitions? When opportunity knocks, you have to show up.
Taseen: “You have to show up. If you have the opportunity, show up and you never know what’s going to come out of it. I almost didn’t. I almost missed it. I definitely encourage students to get involved. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a platform this big — even the local universities that do their own pitch competitions. It’s an opportunity to refine your speaking abilities. To get up there and show the world what you’ve been working on or what you’re going to be working on or what you’re building. Get some feedback and help refine that idea.”
Portions of this interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Are you a student startup? Apply to Student Startup Madness 2018 and compete to pitch on the Student Startup Madness stage at SXSW!