Alumnus partners with Ignite Lab on start-up
By Mikal Muhammad | Student Reporter
Darius Morley (MBA '12) wanted to launch Sportto, a sports future exchange app, but he knew didn’t have all the tools he needed.
That’s when he turned to Ignite Lab, a virtual startup incubator housed within the Quinlan School of Business, to help with the legal paperwork, trademarks, and financial aspects of his idea.
Not only did the Ignite Lab take on Darius’s business, but the lab also connected him with an MBA class that worked on branding and forecasting for the new company.
Below, Darius speaks about his experiences.
What convinced you to turn to Ignite Lab?
I’ve found that the formulation of a good idea is the easiest part of the startup process; however, the execution of that idea is a different story. So when it came to actually making my company, Sportto, a reality, reaching out to Loyola faculty initially, and eventually Ignite Lab, was just a logical decision to me.
This was the institution that had introduced me to many of the business development concepts that I applied to the idea and validation process, so why not go back to where it all began?
What did you expect?
I had two main expectations: I knew that I would be welcomed and that I would learn.
In thinking about the best way to develop my idea of a sports futures exchange, I knew I wanted to work with passionate, intelligent, unconventional thinkers – very much like the classmates and professors I had the opportunity to engage with while a student at Loyola. So, when Sportto was given a spot in the incubator, I was really excited to get insightful, constructive feedback from these objective third parties.
How would you describe the students?
Having seen the presentations, I am thoroughly impressed with not only the level of commitment demonstrated by the students, but also the quality of the work they produced.
Their proposals were incredibly thorough and showed that they really took the time to understand our product, our mission, and our vision. It was evident that each group took this process seriously, and I believe that many of the recommendations made will be integral to the success of my company.
What did Ignite Lab bring to your company?
Based on my positive experience with Ignite Lab, I absolutely believe it can, and should, become a fixture for the Loyola community. Ignite Lab allows you to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios, which is an experience I would highly recommend to all entrepreneurs.
Founding a company is a very exciting but demanding endeavor. In the early stages, you are forced to wear many hats – from CEO to CFO to COO. However, the reality is no one is completely adept in every single area. Fortunately, Ignite Lab provides an environment where you are able to hone your strengths and share them with others, while also developing your weaknesses by learning from mentors and peers.
I would like to offer a very sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU to Professor Uğur Uygur and the students I’ve worked with. I truly appreciate the time, energy, and passion you have invested in Sportto, and my team, and I can’t wait to incorporate some of your recommendations into our strategy moving forward.
On a more general note, I would advise future participants that this incubator – as is the case with all other incubators – isn’t a remedy for the struggles all start-ups face. You get out of it what you put in. You’re the engine that moves your idea/company forward, but you can look to Ignite Lab for its mentorship and ability to facilitate a possible solution to the many problems that will arise as to try to turn your dream into a reality.