Since our last interview with Rachel Koretsky almost a year ago, she has been mentioned on DC Inno’s list of Top 25 DC Startup Founders Under 25, added more universities to her UPACE team, and so much more. See what this Campus Celeb and AU alumnae is doing now!
HCAU: In the last year you have been featured in many different publications from DC Inno three separate times, to fitness blogs, and university websites. How does it feel to have had this much impact with UPACE across the fitness/tech world?
RK: It feels awesome. We've really been able to grow and expand while increasing publicity and outreach. Now we are trying to focus on getting more universities and reaching out to more students, that's really our next step. It’s definitely been a whirlwind of a year.
HCAU: Do you reach out to them or do they reach out to you?
RK: It’s a combination of the two. Sometimes we reach out to potential clients, sometimes students will connect us to the universities. Actually, we are going to a big conference in April called NIRSA National (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association). Approximately 1,000 universities and 3,000 people will be in attendance, so this is our big outreach event into the market place.
HCAU: You are almost two years post-grad, what does an average day look like for you in the UPACE/Start-up World?
RK: Every day is honestly very different. Typically, most of my day is spent going over the app, making sure everything is running smoothly. Then, I work with my team, focusing on different partnerships and clients. My next main focus is on the sales of UPACE. For example, meeting and speaking with universities and doing live and virtual demos.
HCAU: What has been your most rewarding and most challenging experience as a young entrepreneur so far?
RK: The most rewarding is always when I'm on a college campus that has UPACE and I hear students telling me how the app has impacted them. It makes everything worth it. The most challenging... age probably remains one of my biggest challenges, but also positives! For example, because our team is young we understand our consumers, but on the other hand some people see my age and think it’s just a project while I wait for a full time job. No, this is my company and my passion.
HCAU: Can you explain how students can and have gotten involved with UPACE?
RK: We have plenty of internship opportunities available in fields such as business development, graphic design, computer science, and marketing. If anyone is intered in joining our team all you have to do is submit a résumé and cover letter to our email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HCAU: Your interview with Sport Techie mentioned UPACE celebrating National Donut Day in order to combat negative body image and eating disorders. What inspired this and what other initiatives does UPACE have like this one?
RK: What inspired this was the fact that a lot of fitness marketing focuses on having that “ideal body,” and since launching our Instagram account we really wanted to focus on keeping everything body positive. It’s a balance of eating healthy and working out but also promoting that it’s okay to have a donut once in a while and treat yourself. We always try to keep that message throughout all of our social media channels.
HCAU: The Kogod Incubator program has clearly helped you jump start UPACE. How have they continued to support your success?
RK: One of the main things the incubator helps us with is mentorship and guidance throughout every step of the process. That has been unbelievably key. They let us utilize the office space on a daily basis and we've also been able to make partnerships with other teams in the incubator.
HCAU: What will UPACE look like going forward?
RK: Going forward, our plan is to launch at more universities for August 2016. With that we are adding some more features to the app but you will have to stay tuned to see exactly what those features will be!
HCAU: In our last interview, we asked you for advice for current college entrepreneurs. With another year under your belt, do you have any more wise words to pass on?
RK: One of the most impactful things for UPACE looking back a year ago was that I spent about three months just doing informational interviews with potential users and clients. The information I learned through those interviews has been so impactful in figuring out where I wanted to start with the product, what my next step should be, as well as building relationships from the ground up. Basically, if you have an idea, remember to take a step back and speak with people who could be your potential buyers or users and really listening to what they have to say because that is where you will learn the most and figure out what your next step should be.