October 19, 2010
How I Used My Summer Vacation to Start a Business

July. August. September. This year I gave them over to the Founder Institute’s Summer Boston Program. They were without question the most intense 3 months of my life—and I say that as someone who just finished an MBA while running my own fairly intense business, so it’s not like I’m used to sleeping.

The Founder Institute, an incubator for tech start-ups, is like trying to drink from a fire hose. The challenges are intense. The learning curve often steep. The assignments aggressive and aggressively paced. Things normal (read: sane) people may spend months on, we did in a week. This program is not for the faint of heart. But as a result, I have gone from having a vague idea for a business to having a well-vetted concept, backed by a business plan (validated by mentors), a financial model, an advisory board, a prototype and a host of people already registered for the beta addition to all the pleasantries like a logo and a web presence.

More importantly, my colleagues and I now have a phenomenal support team we harness on a daily basis to overturn the inevitable obstacles we encounter. That team includes some great mentors, many of whom continue to make introductions, meet us for lunch, help think through thorny ideas. But the real core support comes from each other. We’ve been through the war together and we’ve got each other’s backs.

Here’s a quick introduction to the group and the businesses we are launching:

Robert Sanchez is interested in keeping kids safe. But he also understands why they hate checking in with their parents. So he has built his geolocation service, TouchBase from the kids’ point of view; it’s not only not uncool, it uses to game mechanics to actually be fun.

Stacey Arbetter spent over a decade in international trade being frustrated by the needless complexity and time wasted completing trade documentation. The result: EximFlow, which simplifies the arduous task of making all those shipping, finance and compliance documents come out right.

Michael Cox, former CTO at a development shop, founded CodeStump on the belief that you can’t hire a good programmer based on a resume and an interview; you need to see some code. So CodeStump lets you test applicants’ abilities in various languages, timed and benchmarked to your specifications.

Robert Yu packs 4 normal-people’s days into any given 24 hours. As a result, he finds himself chronically cancelling appointments. But being a nice guy, he has given some thought to the plight of the dentist (or hairdresser or mechanic) he just stood up. Enter ZoomCal a scheduling optimization solution for appointment-driven industries. Consumers get appointments at a discount; businesses get their cancellations filled.

And me? I’m launching CaringWise, a web- and mobile-enabled platform that helps relieve some of the stress on family members caring for loved ones with complex medical issues—an issue pretty much everyone I know seems to be grappling with these days.

Trevania Henderson is the Founder & CEO of CaringWise, Inc.