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Joseph Oh

FetchMi Hopes to Become Latest College Startup Success Story; Beat the Trend

A table piled high with free Chick-Fil-A tenders and sandwiches and Sweet Hut bubble

tea stood in the center of the first floor of Emorys Math and Science Building. As word spread

of the spectacle, hungry Emory students and professionals, alike, eagerly lined up awaiting a

rare, free lunchtime meal. The crowd, clearly growing restless over the wait, continuously eyed

their prize until, finally, the clock struck two. While the crowd pushed to make their way towards

the table, they didnt realize their wait was just beginning.

The FetchMi team, the organizers of the event and the sought-after food, emerged in front

of the crowd in their blue long-sleeve tee shirts. As individuals tried to grab food, members of

FetchMi would approach them to pitch their business. For the passerby, the trade-off was a short

discussion for a free meal. For the FetchMi team, it was opportunity to network and attempt to

establish a consumer-base.

We try to do whatever it takes to get our companys name out in the public, stated

FetchMi co-founder and Emory sophomore Eric Yang. Our team wants as many people to use

and enjoy our product as possible, and networking is one of the best ways to do that.

Founded in 2017, FetchMi is a small-scale, college business that acts as an online service

firm. Their website operates as a database where consumers can view and compare different

online and local service businesses.

According to Yang, he believes his product can break the trend of nationwide start-up

failures and become the latest college entrepreneurial success story in the business world.
However, the odds of a start-up company succeeding and surviving in todays economy

are slim. Only around 50% of all companies survive past their fourth year of business, according

to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For every successful college start-up like DropBox, Reddit, and Snapchat, there are

thousands more that fail. In 2012, 514,000 new business owners began their journey towards

establishing the next big company. Only half of those remain presently, and in 20 years, only

twenty percent will survive, says data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonetheless, Yang remains steadfast that FetchMi can stand throughout the inevitable

challenges that his company will face.

The single biggest reason our startup will work is one word: team, said Yang. Thats

why I think FetchMi will work. Its my team and our dream.

However, while the FetchMi team dreams of success, money typically dictates if that

comes true.

Yang smiles when the topic of money is brought to his attention. Money is typically an

issue for a majority of startups and college students, according to Yang. However, he suggests

that money is not the most important factor that will determine early success, despite his past

entrepreneurial failure.

Prior to FetchMi, Yang attempted to create an educational agency tailored to international

students, like himself. Although originally optimistic, he slowly realized this business venture

would not be successful. While marketing in his homeland of China, Yang found a lack of

interest from parents with children studying abroad. He cited competition and lack of experience

as causes for their failure. Money, however, was never an issue in his mind.
I dont think that money is a factor that will decide whether your startup will live or

not, Yang stated. I think the deciding factor is not how much money you have in the

beginning. Its how much effort you put in, and what kind of people you have on your team.

Following his unsuccessful first attempt, Yang later founded FetchMi, a company that he

formulated based off of Amazon. FetchMis website mimics features like search engines, side-

by-side comparisons and messaging systems, except, instead of shopping, its for browsing

service companies.

It seems this time Yang has found some early success.

According to Yang, FetchMi has raised $50,000 from a venture capitalist in China, and is

seeking an addition $500,000 by the end of the year.

While FetchMi has raised substantial money from its venture capitalist, most startups are

not fortunate enough to receive such support. Only .05% of startups receive funding from

venture capitalists, according to the Center for Venture Research, a research unit of the College

of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

Instead, startups garner funding primarily from their own personal savings and credit.

Fifty-seven percent of startups are funded using this method, easily the most frequent way of

collecting money, as reported by the Center for Venture Research.

Entrepreneurs using these methods are essentially gambling their own assets. The

numerous business horror stories, like the recent deaths of startups Yik Yak and Jawbone, show

what can ultimately happen to those who bet on themselves.

Altogether, 29% of startup companies run out of money, says data from CB Insights.
Additionally, this death rate is likely more problematic for student-run businesses,

according to Kendra Owens, an organizer of the Siperstein Entrepreneurial Business Plan


Being a college student, youre already working on limited funds so you have to be very

detailed, and intentional about how you spend your money anyway, Owens said.

And just as college students usually lack money, they also lack professional experience.

Tall and lanky with almost no facial hair to boot, Yang resembles what most people

would think of a 19-year old: an undergraduate student.

Yang, along with his Atlanta-based team, represents a youth movement in the business

industry that is slowly diminishing. All under 21 years of age, the team of Emory undergraduates

is a faction of the 25% of entrepreneurs that are college aged to 35 years of age. Since 1996 to

2015, the number has dropped nearly ten percent, according to the Kauffman Foundation.

We are still in school, and we have to take care of our grades, Yang explained. While

we have this huge passion about our startup, we have to put in a significant amount of time for

our startup. That means we have to make some sacrifices. Everyone on the team has to make

some sacrifices. When you sign up for the business, that means you have to sacrifice time for

parties and other hobbies.

Regardless, he points out that a college environment still provides enough free time, goes

hand-in-hand with business ventures, and has cultivated plenty of successful business in the past

like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo.

However, balancing the rigors of school and business can be challenging, according to

Don Cornwell, Director of Emorys Career Center.

Cornwell, who is charged with advising students in career decision-making, finds it

would be arduous to run a startup and be successful in school, especially since businesses are

similar to full-time jobs.

I think its risky, because it is taking up a lot of time, said Cornwell. I do think youre

working eight hours, then essentially putting in a second eight hours as a student thats a good

sixteen hours there. That leaves little time for any social time, extracurriculars, certainly eating

and sleeping, and taking care of yourself and learning to become an adult.

Cornwell doesnt completely dismiss the idea though, citing past Emory successes as a

reason to be optimistic.

According to the Emorys Office of Technology Transfer, Emorys startup portfolio

consists of 82 businesses, that, altogether, have accumulated $85 million in non-dilutive funding

or financing that doesnt require selling shares, $1 billion in private investment capital, $314

million in public investment capital and $13.5 billion from mergers & acquisitions.

FetchMi aspires to carry on this lineage of successful Emory-based startup industries,

Yang declares. While Yang says the odds arent the most favorable, the FetchMi members

continue to pursue their passion and their dream.

We all share have a huge passion for the startup, stated Yang. We believe that this is

where our future is going to be, and this is how we are going to achieve our values, through this

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