1. The Education & Corporate World Merged With a Startup
Hawkins started the company with Alex Milewski. At the time, Hawkins had been working in corporate America, at Disney and then Time-Warner Cable. Milewski was studying at the University of Colorado.
Hawkins refers to them as ‘unlikely co-founders’ in the video above, but the pairing has worked for them. When asked what they have learned from one another, Hawkins said, “The power of having diversity of thought on a team – it’s not only interesting and fun we solve problems better due to our broad experience base.”
Running a startup has challenges, one of which Hawkins described as “letting go of the security of a ‘normal job.'” In the beginning, Milewski wrote the software, but now they have a bigger team to work on that aspect.
2. The Links Are Called Binks
The Beneath the Ink links are called Binks. The words that are highlighted in gold on the page are connections to more information. Without an internet connection or even leaving the page, you can find enhancements like pictures, maps, videos and character descriptions. There are no external links or apps needed.
When asked what has been an interesting Bink to work on, she answered, “We did a panoramic image of the Taj Mahal for John Shor’s novel Beneath A Marble Sky. It’s available in the ibooks version, and it’s amazing.”
3. ‘Shark Tank’ Was the ‘Most High Pressure’ Pitch They’ve Ever Done
At first, Hawkins wasn’t sure if they should apply to the reality show. In fact, the application sat on her desk- printed out- until very near the deadline.
Although the partners are used to pitching their product, the Tank was unlike anything they had ever done before. “Pitching is part of the process however, just usually not on TV and with five high powered Sharks,” she said.
Watch one of their five-minute pitches in the video above.
4. Boulder Helped Them Out
The company is based in Boulder, Colorado and the state was instrumental in the company’s early success. According to the Daily Camera, they participated in CU’s New Venture Challenge, a ‘cross-campus entrepreneurship championship’ at the University of Colorado Boulder. This exposure helped them raise $300,000.
They also got $250,000 from The Advanced Industries Accelerator Program, which is a part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. On their website, it describes the mission of the program as being to “promote growth and sustainability in Colorado’s 7 advanced industries by helping drive innovation, accelerate commercialization, encourage public-private partnerships, increase access to early stage capital and create a strong ecosystem that increases the state’s global competitiveness.”
5. They’re Launching a New Product in May
When asked what the company’s future plans were, Hawkins responded, “Grow grow grow!”
They are launching a new product on May 15th. Hawkins asks anyone interested to visit their website to ‘see a sneak peek or even become an early adopter/Beta user.’