Website Link: NA
Industry: Bill Splitting Technology
Founding Student Name(s): Sabrina Gonzalez, Gema Sanchez, Jodi Chui
Brief Description of Solution: DUTCH is a new innovative app that solves the true core reason why individuals struggle with the idea of going out with friends and having to split checks. In a new innovative approach, we have designed an easy-to-use, hassle-free method to split checks. Gone are the days spent trying to calculate who owes what or who bought what, where to go out to eat or even where to go! With DUTCH, we made the going out effort seamless where individuals no longer fight about putting the card down. Next time you’re out with friends or family and dreading the bill will now be replaced with our easy motto “Let’s go DUTCH!”
Funding Dollars: We currently have two early-stage investors that are helping in the launching of the product in regards to creating the MVP.
What led you to launch this venture?
Jodi Chui, Gema Sanchez Gamez, and I (Sabrina Gonzalez) met last October in Idea Lab, a 6-week Design Thinking Program hosted by the Leavey School of Business. We were initially assigned into different teams. However, once the program progressed, we ended up becoming a group.
One of the first exercises in Idea Lab is to come up with a “bug,” or something that bothers you in everyday life. In our group, we talked about how although socializing and eating out are common in college, they can often be sources of stress and anxiety. As college students, we’re all on limited budgets, and having conversations about money, specifically asking people to pay you back after a meal together, can be super uncomfortable.
We believe that the logistics of group outings with friends can often take away from the community-building aspect, so we wanted to use our diverse backgrounds and interests to provide a solution. Jodi has a background in tech, Gema has a background in law and humanities, and mine is in business. We are so grateful to have gone into this venture with so many diverse viewpoints, because we were able to keep this app really community-focused.
After an idea in Idea Lab, we were accepted into the Bronco Ventures Accelerator Prep School, where we finalized our product and solution. In Prep School, we worked with our mentor to try to really solidify our product and ended up branching out from our original idea of keeping our app food-focused. Throughout this past year, we’ve spent hours going back to the drawing board and refining our idea. We really believe in bringing back the community to group outings and facilitating the process of splitting expenses because we’ve experienced the struggles firsthand. We want anyone who uses our app to have a hub where every aspect of going out, from splitting expenses to sharing pictures is seamless and intuitive.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Our biggest accomplishment to date has been creating three prototypes of our product. We are most proud of our UI design and the thought and research we put into functionality of the app. Throughout Bronco Ventures Accelerator Prep School and Idea Lab, we received amazing feedback and support from fellow participants and mentors that has pushed us to bring DUTCH to where it is today. Another event that really helped us become more confident was the SCU Spring Pitch Competition. While we had learned pitching skills in Idea Lab and Prep School, this competition really helped us cement our pitch and mission. Being declared winners of the pitch competition was a huge moment for us after months of prepwork.
After several meetings with developers, we are aiming to launch the completed product in April of the coming year.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? To be truthful, my major of Economics in the Leavey School of Business has helped me to take an approach to the issue of what bill splitting creates from looking at it from a personal as well as a business point of view. From analyzing target markets to creating designs that generate revenues while solving the issue has been my best asset. The business ideology I learned at Santa Clara has pushed me to want to further create a solution that is the best of both worlds.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The most valuable class I have taken at Santa Clara University has been the Idea Lab class as well as the Bronco Ventures Accelerator Program. Being a Mindset Scholar meant being involved with many of the classes that the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosts for innovation. Christina Florea really pushed us to think beyond what solutions our mind tries to form and try to hit at what causes pain for individuals rather than what we think they want. Each stage of the process reminds us that we might get rid of our own biases and always seek to have empathy for those we strive to help. Saturdays and evenings spent working with the professors created such a renowned sense of hunger to go out into the world and create something worthwhile.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? My first semester of freshman year, I had the privilege of learning from Professor Tim Harris, who has worked in the industry for many years. Through his class he shared countless experiences he had running a company that inspired me to take a leap and try to do the same. Contemporary Business Issues was the class that opened my mind to what business means in the real world and inspired me to grasp onto every topic and its implication in my own life.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Personally, it was my mother, Angelica Gonzalez, who has her own teaching business truly inspired me to start my own entrepreneurial journey. Growing up, I was surrounded with the ideas and motivation it takes to be a female entrepreneur; I felt a calling to the lifestyle that is often intense, but very rewarding. I would spend hours reading the comments and reviews that my mom received and felt inspired to pursue my own journey of service to others.
Sitting next to my mom as she designed, promoted, marketed, and created such amazing worksheets inspired me to get involved in the many aspects of business. I learned UI design, created outside the box solutions, and remained forever grateful to all that my mother taught me in regards to being an entrepreneur.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? The long-term goal of DUTCH is to bring back the community aspect to group outings. By providing a hub for all the tricky logistics of going out, we hope to ameliorate the anxiety that can cause people to look back on their outings with regret. DUTCH will make people be able to easily look back at their adventures with fondness instead of stress. Gone are the days of having to send receipts and venmo QR codes in the group chat, because the process will all be facilitated by us.
We also hope that DUTCH helps bring attention to the need for people-centered technology. Throughout all of our experiences, from Idea Lab to Business Ethics classes, we’ve learned about the importance of empathy in the ideation process, and want to become models for social entrepreneurship.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success?
Definitely, being a local startup in the Silicon Valley has contributed to a lot of the success we’ve had with DUTCH. For example, in my freshman year I was able to go to the Start World Cup in San Francisco with Gema, where we were able to talk to a multitude of venture capitalists as well as CEOs of competitive startups. It was an amazing opportunity. I was able to talk one-on-one with investors and the CEOs in a wide range of fields. For example, we met Jim Anderson, who was invested in a lot of companies like Netflix and other companies, and it was interesting to pick his brain about what leads to successful companies. The experience of being in Silicon Valley and being able to go to all these opportunities definitely helped us get to the place where we are today.
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