Lewis Drummond , FledgeWing : a platform for aspiring Student Entrepreneurs
FledgeWing provides aspiring student entrepreneurs with the framework they need to develop, build and launch innovative new companies. FledgeWing was first founded in October 2007, by Lewis Drummond and Josh Myers, both NYU Stern undergraduates at the time. They have links with around 270 universities around the world, and regularly host off-line networking events for entrepreneurs and mentors to mingle.Lewis Drummond has an undergraduate degree from NYU Stern, a long-time background as an IT consultant for corporate infrastructures, was CTO of MySpace Europe for 18 months back in 2006 and launched a still-active hosting company, Saints Servers, in 2002.Joshua Myers has undergraduate degree from NYU Stern and works for Neuberger Berman. FW launched a Hindi version of their platform recently, Lewis talks to YourStory about FledgwWing and their Hindi platform.
How does the platform work
To start off, many students discuss their ideas in our ‘Idea Pitch’ area. Organized by industry, it allows students to hear feedback on their potential ventures and meet fellow students with similar interests. When they are ready to take it to the next stage, students create a Project, a public or private collaboration area with tickets, forums, tagging and details about the venture itself. As the project grows, users can reach out to our mentors for advice or enter in our business plan competitions.
For those students just interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, they can peruse our articles and case study section, or attend one of our networking events. They can also use our advanced search feature to find other FledgeWing members using specific criteria.
Idea behind launching a Hindi version of the website?
A quarter of our web traffic comes from India, and the country has the third largest higher-education system in the world. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), India’s entrepreneurship scene is quickly growing. Lastly, the users are very eager to help FledgeWing grow in their home country, we even had a student translate the site for us for free.
Most of India browses the internet in English - what was the motivation behind getting a Hindi site done.
While many Indian users browse the internet in English, we wanted to ensure that the FledgeWing community was as accessible as possible to our Indian users. For those users not entirely comfortable with English, we believe a Hindi translation of the interface meets our goal.
Some of the projects that have used FW
We've had a number of successful projects that have used FledgeWing. One of our favorites is SkillAddiction.com, a gaming site with cash rewards, started by a Syracuse student. They have won a number of business plan competitions and goverment grants. Other projects include The Factionist and WeCycle, appearing on the 'Shark Tank' and 'The Today Show' respectively, TV shows in the US.
Your business model
Our business model is simple. We offer monthly subscriptions to corporate users wishing to engage with our unique community. Small businesses can list jobs or career events and case studies, as well as selectively searching our userbase. We also allow them to post case studies, modeled on detailed descriptions of real or hypothetical business issues, which will provide them with practicable and innovative solutions as well as an assessment of a student’s business acumen.
How do you attract/involve mentors to take out time to help out the students
Mentors aren't paid or compensated by FledgeWing, but they have a number of benefits for participating in the community aside from being socially responsible. Mentors have an opportunity to invest in students' ventures during early stages, recruit them directly or network the student with their other contacts. Lastly, because all students are rated with an eBay-style feedback system, the mentor's time is never wasted with spam.
More about the offline events
Our offline events are all-expenses paid meetups between FledgeWing users, both students and mentors. To date, we've held events in Oxford, London, Hong Kong and New York. We're hoping to hold one in Mumbai in the near future. The sessions have been very successful and led to a number of new partnerships between our members.