In The Atrium With Matt Alexander
Junior entrepreneurship major Matt Alexander of Powell, Wyoming seeks to find creative solutions to everyday problems. His current project is IllumiBowl, a motion-activated night-light clipped inside a toilet bowl to assist late-night bathroom trips. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, IllumiBowl splashed across headlines online, landing the product on notable sites like Good Morning America, Gizmodo, and MSN. Alexander started his academic journey at BYU as a mechanical engineer until an intro class in the Marriott School changed his life.
MAM: What class do you credit for motivating you to change majors?
Matt Alexander: Intro to Entrepreneurship taught by John Richards during the 2013 winter semester. After the first day of class, I knew I wanted to switch majors. I fell in love with entrepreneurship and saw so much opportunity with this major. I wanted the freedom to choose whatever I wanted to be.
MAM: Where do you find inspiration for your ideas?
MA: I read a lot of books and do a great deal of conscious brainstorming. Some of the books I’ve read include Rich Dad Poor Dad and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. They’ve given me the why; they’ve given me my motivation to go into business for myself. The business books I’ve found really effective are Nail It Then Scale It, Lean Startup, and The $100 Startup. I also always ask how I can improve the world around me. I look everywhere for problems to solve.
MAM: What were some of the roadblocks you experienced on your way to becoming an entrepreneur?
MA: The first one I dealt with was different people trying to tell me what to do. Some of them didn’t feel I could have success as an entrepreneur. Listening to them prevented me from going all in as an entrepreneur earlier in my life. The second roadblock I’ve faced is finding the right people to partner with. It can be hard to find people who have the same business goals.
MAM: You recently placed in the 2015 Business Model Competition sponsored by the Rollins Center. What did you learn while competing?
MA: Participating in the competition made me aware of the mentoring opportunities around me. One thing I learned about during the competition was http://www.getmentoring.com. You have access to real entrepreneurs who are good at what they do whether they’re in marketing or anything else. It felt good to place as a finalist and know my hard work is starting to pay off.
MAM: What role has the CET played in your personal growth as an entrepreneur?
MA: The CET has helped me make valuable connections. They helped me find some key mentors like Corbin Church and Jeff Howlett. These connections have helped me get to where I am today.
MAM: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
MA: I’ll have started multiple businesses and be involved in education reform whether it’s open-source education or solutions that will help improve learning.