Entrepreneurs of Bentley is an article series profiling the latest innovations and startups from the Bentley University community. Know someone who should be featured? Tell us about it at Bentley.edu/story
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Company: iOS application Zyp cleaning service
I’ve always been interested in business and actually began working at a very young age because I was simply eager to work. As far as starting my own business, it was always in the back of my head — but I never in a million years thought I would be starting a cleaning company facilitated through a technology platform.
As an entrepreneur, I enjoy solving a real-life problem — particularly if it’s an issue I have (like cleaning the bathroom). Building a product from absolutely nothing that solves a problem in a unique and creative way has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Since I feel this way about what I do (and love it to my core), work doesn’t feel like work and everything else is just naturally tuned out.
Check out the rest of the Entrepreneurs of Bentley series.
How did you come up with the idea for Zyp?
While living in suites at Bentley, Serge Derby ’15 and I ran into the issue that we were very neat guys, but no one ever wanted to be the one to clean the bathroom. We dreamt of a service that would come in and clean just our bathroom, but our only option was to pay a minimum of $60+ and have our entire dorm room cleaned. After researching available options and finding nothing that met our needs, Zyp was born.
What does Zyp provide?
Zyp is a flat rate, on-demand and area-specific cleaning service facilitated through a mobile iOS application and geared toward roommates — whether college students or young professionals. Our focus is on common spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room; Zyp will clean just a single one of those rooms or any combination of the three. You pay only for the rooms you want cleaned, for as low as $19.99 (compared to the industry standard of $80+). The mobile app even makes it easy for roommates to split the bill, and a cleaner typically arrives within an hour of the request.
Did you recruit anyone else to work on your business with you?
Yes. Our team currently consists of two developers and two managing partners (me and Serge). Because Serge and I are not technical, building out our development team was vital in the production of the mobile application.
Roughly how much time do you spend working on your business?
Essentially I’m always working, and at this point don’t track it. Oftentimes I’ll be asked by classmates if I’ve been abroad, as they rarely see me anymore. It can definitely become somewhat stressful at times with managing a business and attending Bentley, but I do it.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in becoming an entrepreneur?
It’s a roller coaster ride with tons of quick turns, fast moments and slow moments — all of which are shadowed by feelings of uncertainty, lack of control and fear. I have experienced challenges, pains, incredible emotions and the some of the lowest of lows — ones I never would have thought I would experience. Spending many long hours inside and alone at the computer brought with it a certain level of loneliness that at times becomes very difficult to deal with.
What qualities do successful entrepreneurs posses?
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It takes quick, efficient problem-solving skills that are outside of your own personal skill set. It also requires an ability to roll with the punches and always stay positive even in the bleakest of situations.
There are so many new ideas being developed every day. What sets a successful product/app/service apart from an unsuccessful one?
Brand loyalty comes from the intangible things that just make a user feel good. We are always trying to think about what a seven-star experience is like (on a scale of five). The only way to achieve this is by having the right company culture in place from day one. Everything stems from this culture, so it is absolutely imperative to get it right from the start.
What are your plans after you graduate? What kind of career do you see yourself having?
I am extremely passionate about technology and business, so being able to work on a mix of the two with Zyp is the ultimate dream job for me.
How has Bentley prepared you to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve learned how to break a big project up into tasks, manage it head-to-toe and complete it. This includes taking an issue and looking beyond the surface — digging in and diagnosing the root cause. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Bentley is the importance of company culture. That is currently what drives Zyp each and every day, and something that we take very seriously.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received as you have developed your business?
To focus on creating 10 customers who absolutely love your business rather than 1,000 who “semi” like it — and then scale from there.
What advice do you have for other young people, especially college students, who want to become entrepreneurs?
Fasten your seat belt because it is going to be a bumpy ride with lots of quick turns and unforeseen drops!