The Founders Series : advice for entrepreneurs and students who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs
With the Founders Series, we reach across multiple industries in order to get diverse perspectives on entrepreneurship. That’s why you see anything from startup law firms to mobile yoga studios sprinkled in alongside tech startups.
This week, we feature a great Q&A with Alexandrea Mellen, the Founder of Terrapin Computing. Our initial contact with Alexandrea was while she was still a senior at Boston University studying computer engineering. This edition of the Founders Series is extra special to us because Alexandrea started Terrapin while still a student and has continued to grow the business following graduation, even presenting at BlackHat USA 2015 along the way! Quite impressive, and a great testament to the highly talented students in our schools these days! Not to mention, the apps Alexandrea is creating are helping educate other students.
Tell us about Terrapin Computing. What’s your vision for the company?
I recently began working full time on my iOS development company. My goal is to have an education line of tools to help students. Right now, I have Lewis Dot CHEMISTRY available, which is a reference tool for students taking Chem 101 (http://terrapincomputing.com/lewis_dot.html). I also hope to start a game for iOS using Unity. I have heard developing and designing a game can be extremely difficult, but at the same time extremely rewarding.
What inspired you to start your own company?
I developed my first iOS Application in my sophomore year. It was Resistor Color Coder, which I used to help me with my Computer Engineering classes. I was excited to have made my first app, but what really hit home was the Marathon Bombings in April of 2013. My sister and I were going to her first Boston Marathon and were a block away when the bombs exploded. This was truly a wakeup call for me. It made me realize the fragility of life and pushed me to form my company, Terrapin Computing LLC.
What is the most important trait for an entrepreneur to have?
Truly, I think the most important trait for an entrepreneur to have is drive. It is so easy to give up and work for someone else instead of taking the uncertainty and responsibility that comes with owning your own business. But if you have the drive to work at it, enjoy it, and succeed, you can do amazing things. The drive to push yourself to new heights comes with a high risk but also a high reward.
What advice would you give to fellow students who are considering joining a startup or starting their own company?
Just do it! It can be really scary jumping in and starting your own business, or even joining a startup that isn’t a 100% sure thing. But this is the beauty of the startup world. If you have drive and a belief in yourself and the products you make, you can go far. Just keep pushing forward, make your own opportunities, and stay passionate and excited about the future.
Where can people find out more about Terrapin Computing?