Begin comes to the Maker Lab

The Geeks in Residence talks in the Maker Lab have given us a chance to talk to lots of interesting people with lots of great projects. It’s great to have conversations with others who are starting a business, or thinking of starting a business. We’ll share some of these conversations as we go along.

Like our talk with the founders of Begin, Ifu Aniemeka (developer) and Chris Balin (designer). Begin is an inventive app and connected device ecosystem that helps people structure their morning routines. We had a great conversation with Ifu and Chris. They came to see us because they felt the Geeks in Residence program seemed like a good way to get advice from people who had gone a little further through the process of creating a startup, and get general feedback on their concept, along with advice for next steps to take. We were able to talk through things with them, help them identify some companies who had tried comparable things in the past, and also list some pitfalls to avoid. Plus, we gave them gummy bears. Bonus!

One of the things we like best about the Geeks in Residence program is that it couples all the resources of the incredible Harold Washington Library Center with real people having real conversations. We think that’s important. As Ifu told us, “Just having the opportunity to get an outside expert perspective on our concept (and the realities of starting a business) was enormously valuable. Not to mention, their combined years of experience in the industry meant that they were able to offer resources we would have never found on our own. Perhaps most important was that they asked us the right kinds of questions – questions that helped us craft a more solid plan forward.” The GIR program offers entrepreneurs a way to gain information that can’t be found in books, in a setting where they have multiple other traditional resources at their fingertips. A book isn’t as helpful as a person can be when you’re trying to frame a problem, or talk through critical questions. But when a book is the best resource, like when we recommended Disciplined Entrepreneurship to Ifu and Chris, they could go right up to the 4th floor and find it (it’s due back on November 30, guys, don’t forget).

When we asked Ifu and Chris what their advice would be to anyone thinking about coming to a talk with the Geeks in Residence, they simply said “Do it!” We think that’s great advice, if we do say so ourselves. We’d love to see you at a talk sometime soon. There may even be a gummy bear in it for you.


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