Have you ever gotten dressed and raced down to your campus gym, only to find that all of the equipment is taken? Rachel Koretsky, Kogod/BA ’14, did, and through her time at American University, created an app that could change campus gyms across the nation.
Rachel is the founder and CEO of upace, an app that “offers students a way to find out how crowded the gym is, plan their visits and sign up for classes,” also offering management, monitoring, and scheduling systems for universities to utilize. Rachel, motivated by her own passion for fitness, began the company two years ago out of the American University Entrepreneurship Incubator, a program that she declared was “instrumental” to the growth of her business. “The American University Entrepreneurship Incubator made it easier to collaborate with student founders like myself and with alumni in the for-profit business world, which helps when you’re establishing steps to start a company. They also helped me with my business plans and guided me on ways to appeal to potential customers. Plus, the program provided me with a great support system.”
Rachel’s background at AU primed her for a career in entrepreneurship, particularly studying in Kogod and interning at nonprofits. Despite popular belief, her time spent at not-for-profit institutions such as the Ronald McDonald House of South NJ gave her invaluable experience about business operations. “Nonprofit and for profits shouldn’t be at odds. Through a nonprofit I learned how to direct fundraisers, run meetings and manage different working styles.”
Although Rachel is on the younger end of AU alumni, she has invaluable advice for graduating seniors seeking to pursue a career in entrepreneurship after that big walk in May.
“First, conduct informational interviews and find out if your idea is a useful asset. I spent three months doing development on upace – I got honest feedback and it helped me prevent mistakes. Secondly, ask yourself - Is this the right time in your life to pursue this? Is this your passion? Starting a company is a big time commitment, and you have to be ready. Many entrepreneurs [underestimate the amount of time it takes to oversee their operations].” As for upace, their immediate next steps include readying for launches this Fall and continuing to grow the product based on feedback from users and partners. She also adds that graduating seniors seeking advice are welcome to send questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.