Fardeen Chowdhury was the only one available to talk because his two partners were working away on their venture.
The venture—Prospr—helps charities develop effective champion systems, providing them with the channels to better source and engage community fundraisers and brand ambassadors from their existing donors. While the trio is preparing to launch their prototype within a month and is holding meetings with prospective partners and funders, the story started more than a year ago.
Fardeen and cofounder Nathan Knight were competing in the 2017 Hult Prize competition when they heard about GreenHouse. Fardeen applied and moved into GreenHouse in the winter 2018 term, initially working with Nathan and other cofounder Chris Tran on a venture that emerged from the Hult theme. When that idea faced roadblocks beyond their control, they began another venture called Sinovia Medical. Here the team was developing a band for arthritis patients to wrap around their joints while they performed therapeutic exercises at home so that we could collect biomechanical data to send to their family doctors and specialists, cutting down the need to see them as often and providing more continuous health data. But this venture, too, faced challenges. Fardeen says, “The idea had high potential but as we went through the process of engaging with industry and potential customers, we got inconsistent answers.” This coupled with the team being split apart in different locations because of co-op made them decide to move on.
Fardeen says, “In terms of coming up with ideas, there are basically two kinds of entrepreneurs that we’ve seen: some have a particular passion that they’re laser-focused on while others are constant idea-generating machines.” The team now leading Prospr fits into the latter category. He says, “Every time we are together, our conversations are about ideas and whether we could do anything with them.”
But the idea for Prospr wasn’t one they generated. Rather, when GreenHouse Program Manager and Startup Coach, Brendan Wylie-Toal, shared challenges issued by organizations within the Workplace Innovation Program, the trio was drawn to the issue of improving charity fundraising channels.
Unlike previous ideas, this one is taking off. “Everyone is really responsive,” says Fardeen. And while two team members are about to graduate, they’ve learned to work together and have found the idea that excites them.
Chris taking a break from working on designs for their software, adds, “A lot of the entrepreneurship journey is about learning to walk the fine line between humility and confidence. Being in GreenHouse with other entrepreneurs has helped us have the humility of always learning and the confidence to be an expert.”
Nathan adds, “I'm a solution oriented person, I see a problem and I want nothing more than to sit down and start programming the problem away. Unfortunately, that doesn't work so well in practice when you're trying to build a solution for a market that you don't know inside and out. It takes a lot of conscious effort to dig into the problem and plan out how you will address it before you write your first line of code. I believe that as a team we have learned that process well through our experiences in the last year and a half.”