Brandon Young & Team Win Startup Weekend Louisville with Pascal

December 4, 2017

 A junior in Speed School's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Brandon Young has a little idea that he hopes to make a big deal. Young and a multi-disciplinary team of students recently won the Startup Weekend Louisville, a competition which according to their site seeks to bring “together graphic designers, marketing professionals, sales people, students, programmers, homemakers and anyone else that wants to learn how to move from a back of the napkin idea.”

Small Time

Their product: Pascal, a device that according to their website they hope “will provide a permanent solution to an everyday problem, forgetting items at home.” Serving as the CEO,
Young is now at work on his co-op in a research here on Belknap Campus, Young is learning to balance his time between his work responsibilities and his dreams to grow his company. His scant free moments are dedicated to taking calls, thinking about, or directly working on Pascal.

He explains, “It is easier for me to try to balance my time with my actual work/co-op with my extra-curriculars, because I’ve been doing very time extensive engineering curriculars since I was in high school.”

The idea for Pascal had been percolating for a month or so prior to the Startup Weekend. After his girlfriend accidentally locked herself out of her apartment for the third or fourth time, Young got to work on a practical engineering solution.

“I was getting really frustrated and had an idea for Pascal," says Young. "I won’t actually say that my own personal faults didn’t help come up with the idea either. I almost routinely lose my laptop charger or my phone charger.”

Building Business

Like a hackathon or 24-hour film festival, the basic premise behind the Startup Weekend competition is to develop a business or product idea from the ground up during a 54-hour period. Young, the president of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club, worked with his team in developing the general outline for Pascal, leaving with a newfound understanding of entrepreneurship.

“It is less about the engineering side and more about the business," he admits. "I went into the event assuming whatever project I was going to work on would be 95 to 100 percent engineering, but I would say almost 40-60 percent of what I did during startup weekend was engineering. I learned everything from the simply theories of how market research should be done, business model canvases, and the analysis of market research and other business related statistics.”

Leader of the Pascal

Conducting a survey with more than 500 participants during the competition, they were able to determine a high potential consumer interest. Encouraged by that data, Young and the Pascal team set to work on realizing their vision, working to establish the best possible design and market for their product. Utilizing his experience with additive manufacturing, Young has worked to develop a variety of designs, attaining new skills and avenues of approach along the way.

One of his biggest lessons has been in learning how to better impart his burgeoning engineering acumen to his team at Pascal. Ultimately, it’s about developing better communication skills to help build a better team, and Young is eager for the challenge.

“There were a few points where it was difficult to explain a few topics I was trying to articulate, but after a few explanations from both sides it got easier," said Young. "I do think that interesting for me to be the leader of the group as I have that engineering awkwardness about me.”