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In the interest of anti-stealth, I’m going to publicly announce one of the for profit ventures that I am currently working on. Incidentally, what exactly happened to the NextNY anti-stealth movement? There was a lot of activity at the end of October, and then the whole movement seemingly collapsed.

Anyway, a friend and I have started exploring the idea of a new campus based venture. Many of you who are students are probably familiar with the few awkward minutes that you spend every few hours in an elevator traveling to and from class. While you are in the elevator, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice LCD displaying current campus events that might be of interest to you, or perhaps an ad telling you about the discounted food at Chipotle down the block this week?

Our idea is exactly that, we would like to create a network of LCDs in campus elevators that would stream both campus events as well as advertisements. A well established player, Captivate Network, currently does this in the office building market. We would like to stay away from office buildings at the moment, and focus purely on college campuses (Facebook vs LinkedIn analogy?).

Captivate Network

Since both of us are current Columbia students, in fact both BME PhD students, we have decided to use Columbia University as a pilot site. I haven’t had time to put together a powerpoint presentation yet, but I will definitely post it in the next few days. For now we are tackling several thorny issues:

  • Is it even possible to do it in NY? We are currently checking the New York Fire Code. Safety code for elevators and escalators : an American national standard by the American Society for Mechanical Engineers will be our guide. Looks like I won’t need sleeping pills tonight.
  • We have done some back of the envelope calculations to see whether the idea is sustainable and scalable. If we intend to get more funding, we will have to produce a full financial projection. The projection itself is of course of no great importance to either investors or us, since reality almost always deviate significantly from the projections. Though it’s important to have one anyway, if nothing else than to show that due diligence was performed.
  • To start campus based businesses that depend so much on campus infrastructure, we are clearly going to need a faculty champion. We have started approaching various members of the engineering faculty, the business school faculty, as well as Columbia’s Science and Technology Ventures group to begin soliciting feedback and buy-ins. We’ve had a lot of success getting people excited about the concept, but haven’t found a champion of the project yet. If you know of a Columbia faculty who might be interested, please let me know!
  • I will also begin to approach NYU and CCNY about the idea as well, in case Columbia falls through as a pilot site.
  • We will clearly need a powerpoint presentation down the line. I’ll put up version 1.0 of the presentation in a few days.

Since we are still very early in our planning stages, we are open to all suggestions and ideas. Let me know if any of you have any feedback or have seen existing implementations on college campuses! If you happen to be a college student / faculty, and are interested in joining our team, shoot me an email: mail @ jackpo dot org.

  • DAR

    Hi Jack. Congrats on the anti-stealth stance! As one of the people who spoke out for NextNY’s anti-stealth movement, I applaud you!

    Re: “Incidentally, what exactly happened to the NextNY anti-stealth movement? There was a lot of activity at the end of October, and then the whole movement seemingly collapsed.”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but as for me personally, the short story is that I haven’t achieved any new milestones on my project, so there’s been no updates for me to toot the “anti-stealth” horn with. (The long story is that I have a full-time job – and kids – and so can only hack on my project on the side, making progress very slow.)

    Would love to pick up the pace, and have more to report, but I don’t see things changing significantly for me any time soon. It’s a real bummer. But – hey: hacking on the side towards a start-up, is better than not working towards a start-up at all!

    Best of luck with your new venture!

  • http://fredlu.com Fred

    Ooh.
    Great idea.
    Captivate is a pretty big company that has done very well in offices. I know I am always riveted every time I am in an elevator and it would seem to me college kids are a great target demographic to get advertisers onto.

    Only worry I can see is the number of elevators you can even do this with. New York campus’s tend to go upward, but in my experience, most college campus’s tend to sprawl horizontally. I don’t think I ever was in a elevator when I was at Hopkins or Michigan.

    btw- I hate captha’s.

  • Rich P

    I know that it is allowed in NYC. I have seen them in the Hotel Pennsylvania, next to MSG. The thing is that the building is about 20 stories, so there is time to view stuff. I am not sure a college would occupy that much of a building to make it worth it…

  • Joshua L

    I also have my doubt regarding elevators. Seems like there would be so many better places on a college campus, e.g. the line at coffee stand, behind the bar at the student pub, treadmills at the gym.

    I will get the the photos of the system in place at Hopkins soon. Where is this PowerPoint you promised?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/annslee Ann “you know who” lee

    Jack Po…this seems like a great idea…how are you gonna get Columbia to fund this ??

  • http://kevinchiu.org Kevin Chiu

    Why limit yourselves to elevators?