Zach Schleien, Roarke Clinton, and Nate Frechette have spent the past year busting their asses. Their sweat-and-elbow-grease effort BeginU–a website that connects students with similar work-space passions–is about to take off, and there's no way we're letting it happen without getting a word in first. Jerk had the pleasure of getting to know these three entrepreneurs on a business and surface level. (You really didn't think we'd leave without asking about celebrity crushes and embarrassing apps, did you?)
When did you start BeginU? Zach: Roarke and I actually started BeginU in December 2011 over Skype. Our two different ideas met each other and merged, but we mutually wanted to start a site that could hook up students based on skill sets. Then we needed a developer, and we met Nate, who’s from Le Moyne. We started really getting things going in December 2012 and now we have an actual prototype for our website. Our site is pretty baller. Roarke: Yeah, exactly. It evolved over Skype, we basically threw everything up on a board, and started getting really excited about our ideas. We pivoted several times on how we were going to get this thing going.
What do you think sets BeginU apart from LinkedIn and other social media? Roarke: Actually, we don’t want to compete with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great site, and a great way to extend your resume. But it is a very open site, while BeginU, on the other hand, is exclusively for students. Our site is committed that students gain real-life experience on campus. It is software that is exclusively for universities. Zach: This site is totally focused on college students. This network facilitates students finding other students based on skill sets. Our job is finding a way to connect them. The goal is for students to gain experience based on their interests and goals outside the classroom, while in college, before going into the working world.
What type of apps do you guys build? Do you do it for fun or do you hope to sell them? Nate: Both. Roarke does the design and I do the development with another freshman here, Aidan. The ultimate goal is to build something cool and have companies buy our app. That’d be ideal.
Most embarrassing app on your phone? Zach: Tinder and a hypnosis app that I use to meditate. Roarke: “All Women Stalk.” It’s like girl tips. It actually has really good tips, though. Nate: I don’t know, Temple Run? I play it every once in a while.
What is your favorite thing about Syracuse? Zach: I just joined an amazing yoga studio, Lotus Life. But when I was a student here, I loved my AEPi fraternity parties. Roarke: The weather. Just kidding. The focus. I love finding people who are willing to get down and dirty, and collaborate with each other to get something to happen. Nate: I don’t know… I’ve lived here my whole life. Marshall Street?
What’s something most people don't know about you? Zach: I’m trained to be a certified health coach. Roarke: I’m a glass-blower. Nate: I play guitar, lacrosse, and I like long walks on the beach.
Top item on your bucket list? Zach: To be a commencement speaker. Roarke: Own my own island. Nate: Skydiving. I’m terrified of heights, but I’ve got to do it.
Celebrity crush? Zach: Kim Kardashian. Roarke: I have a girlfriend…. And I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Nate: Mila Kunis.
Biggest pet peeve? Zach: When people say they’re going to do something then cop-out. Roarke: I hate contradictions! Nate: People who take themselves too seriously.
Most embarrassing story. Zach: When I was 14, I went on a trip to DC with my class. At the time, I had the biggest crush on this girl, Julia, and I told her in the cafeteria that I liked her. She told me, straight up, that she didn’t like me, and I started crying. I felt like everyone around me was laughing, so I ran to the bathroom. Roarke: We were at a conference at the largest accelerator in the country, in Boston, and I approached the person who literally runs the place. He’s like a millionaire. I wasn’t aware of that at the time, and I managed to walk up to him, and asked for his name, and what his job was, and he was basically like “I run this whole thing.” Nate: When I was ten years old, I climbed up to the top of a tree thinking I was really cool. As I was coming down, and my friends were going to someone else’s backyard, my pants somehow got caught on a branch. I literally dropped trou, was hanging upside down in the tree, crying my eyes out. I was so paranoid that my friends were going to come back as my Mom was rescuing me.
Apple or Microsoft? All: Apple!
What is your advice for people just getting started? Zach: You better be all in for it. Don’t half-ass it. Also, follow your gut. Roarke: The road is tough, but it’s worth it. Also, look for people with skills better than yours. Nate: Don’t always think that your idea is the best be willing to adjust.
What are your thoughts on student entrepreneurship? Got a start-up you want to share? Hit us up in the comments below or tweet us @jerkmagazine.