Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya, Alum Help College Students

When Michael Appelbaum (MSB ’00) and Jeffrey Garvett (COL ’00) started their own Internet company out of Appelbaum’s Henle apartment last year, they had no idea where the endeavor would take them. Using a mixture of instinct and intellect, the two developed Illumix Software, a small but profitable company that, according to its own description, “develops and distributes Internet enhancement software.”

Appelbaum recently spoke at a conference called “JumpStart2K,” which aimed to introduce Washington’s college students to the Web-based business opportunities available to them. The conference was sponsored by, a Web site with the same purpose.

Starting a functional company seems a significant achievement for two college seniors, but when Appelbaum speaks of Illumix, it is with a very hesitant pride.

“Illumix is a great company, and it will always make money, but it didn’t have the scalability to attract investment that a high-growth company would,” Appelbaum said.

Appelbaum considers Illumix a learning experience more than anything else, a step on the way to greater things.

Last year, four Duke University students created their own Internet company, “” Designed to help bright students like Appelbaum who have good ideas but lack resources, the site invites students to submit a one- or two-page business proposal online. operates on the premise that students have the most innovative ideas out there but need serious help when it comes to actually implementing and sustaining a profitable business.

The motto of StartEmUp’s Web site is “From Dorm Room to Board Room.”

“For too long, a void has existed between top campus talent and the established investor community,” says the Web site.

Submitted proposals are considered by StartEmUp’s professional advisory board. Solid business models are given serious advisors and access to investment. In exchange, StartEmUp takes a chunk of the company’s equity. The idea is that students with good ideas won’t have to go through the intermediary step that Appelbaum did. Instead of writing software in a dorm room out of pocket money, talented students can write programs with high-powered investment firms and critical advisors at their disposal. held the conference at the Monarch Hotel on Tuesday. 200 young entrepreneurs showed up for the chance to drop off business proposals and hear Appelbaum and others speak.

“Credibility and experience,” Appelbaum told the crowd of students, “are the two true challenges facing any college-aged entrepreneur.”

Appelbaum later explained the importance of having a strong business team behind any idea.

“Business models will always be central, but it’s the court team that needs to be able to adapt and will determine whether a company is successful or not,” he said. “Presentation skills, strategy – all of this is important. It’s more than just the idea.”

The conference’s panel of speakers also featured the publisher of “Business Forward” magazine, an executive of the highly developed internet company Blackboard, a venture capitalist and a service provider.

One or more of the many students who came to the conference with business proposals will be awarded a $100,000 package to start up a web-based corporation.

Appelbaum’s latest project is a company called “Vital Contact,” which, he explained, “attempts to provide companies with immediate access to vital business information.”

When asked what made Vital Contact successful and profitable, Appelbaum again spoke of the business venture as a whole.

“It’s the advisors that make Vital Contact work,” he said. will continue to hold student conferences throughout the country this fall in Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

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