Student Maker Experiences Entrepreneurial Reality at Startup Bootcamp

A Hacker Lab Startup Hustle Success Story

Tyler Hill, a Sierra College Electro Mechanical Engineering major from Lincoln, CA, got a job working for NCR Corporation in part because of his participation in the Hacker Lab Startup Hustle, a boot camp for entrepreneurs held in fall 2015.

CACT Tyler Hill Sierra College Student MakerHill had joined Hacker Lab to access the CNC and laser cutting tools, and then applied to participate in Startup Hustle to work on the home automation system he developed with another student. “Putting this experience on my resume helped me stand out and get a job as an ATM Engineer,” said Hill.  “I enjoy the work and am even more confident in my plan to transfer to a California State University engineering program.”

Hill explained that he developed new skills to create a prototype product at Hacker Lab. “I had no idea how to make a printed circuit board,” said Hill. “But after three weeks of practice at Hacker Lab, I could make a perfect board from scratch.”

Startup Hustle teams attend weekly online and in-person training sessions led by successful founders of businesses. In addition, industry mentors coach the teams. “The mentors were genius,” said Hill. “They were more than technical experts; they collaborated with us to think through sales and marketing.”

Startup Hustle made Hill more aware of identifying a target market for his team’s inventions. “One of the assignments was to pinpoint the exact type of customers we were going for to sell our product,” said Hill.

Sierra College Mechatronics faculty member, Steve Gillette also offered advice to Hill by sharing his own experience running a company. “I didn’t really want to hear it,” said Hill. “We were excited about the technology and unprepared for the difficulties of regulation, producing a product and building a business. He was absolutely right on about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and I appreciated his help.”

“The insight I gained from Startup Hustle was like getting ice cold water thrown at you,” said Hill.  “We realized that we were in way over our heads trying to run a company and needed to know more.”

Hill found the Startup Hustle experience to be exceptionally useful. “When I started, I had no idea how to pursue a realistic, viable business,” said Hill. “I would recommend Startup Hustle to other students who are up for the challenge and think they’d like to be entrepreneurs. It isn’t for the faint of heart.”

Although Hill has decided not to move forward with the home automation system, he believes that the experience of Startup Hustle was very valuable. “I gained so much that you can’t learn in school,” said Hill. “I would definitely recommend that students get involved with Hacker Lab so they can apply what they are learning. When I’m ready to start a company, I’ll know what it takes.”

In just one year, Sacramento-based Hacker Lab worked with Sierra College to find an off-campus location in Rocklin, CA, fill it with equipment, attract 140 members (50% students) and offer education events attended by over 1000 people. Learn more at the Startup Hustle (http://startuphustle.in/) and Hacker Lab http://hackerlab.org/websites. Read other stories about fall 2015 Startup Hustle participants at (http://sierracollegetraining.com/entrepreneurs/).

Students and Sacramento area entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for the next Startup Hustle (http://startuphustle.in/) by March 17. Sierra College (http://sierracollege.edu/) students can join Hacker Lab for $12 per month (http://hackerlab.org/sierracollege/) and participate in Startup Hustle for free.