What are you studying?
Simbai: Economics with a minor in Finance. I’m currently working on the Technology Entrepreneurship certificate this semester.
Nabil: Computer Science, I’ll be graduating in the spring semester.
Anthony: Graduating with a Communications major and Business minor, I’m almost done! I’ll be finishing up in August.
What’s your startup?
Simbai: We are Shoot Technologies. We’re building a platform to connect people to photographers. We’re simplifying the process of connecting people to photographers and getting photoshoots together to collaborate.
Nabil: Yeah, what he said.
How’s your summer been going so far?
Simbai: Going very well! We’re having a great time here and were looking forward to doing more great things after the summer is over.
Nabil: It started out terrible because I was fasting, but it’s a lot better now because I can eat everything I want. I enjoy all the food that I want because a lot of my favorite restaurants are popping up, so that’s cool.
Anthony: It’s been a ride, for sure. it’s been pretty busy and I’m definitely learning a lot as an individual and I’m trying to do my best for Shoot. It’s really fun working with everybody.
How is working in a co-working space?
Anthony: I think it’s cool because you’re in a room with people trying to create something and everybody is working together and getting along. It’s also a great place to be connected to others and being around smart people. It’s just a really great environment to be in as a person.
Simbai: Last time, we went out for drinks with another startup, they were a part of OwlSpark. We said that we had a lot in common because we’re not the type of people to try and work “normal” jobs over the summer, or apply to internships; we’re all here because we’re the “go for the throat” type people. It’s cool to be in a place with people know where they want to go, it’s motivating to know that there’s people like us.
Nabil: I like how theres are people of different skill levels that I can go to for help, like, I’m in tech, and I’m still new to the whole thing and it’s nice to find people that have advanced technical skills that I can go to them for help. That’s pretty cool.
What’s your favorite aspect of the program?
Nabil: The mentorship sessions, definitely. Those are really helpful because you get more feedback. Also the smaller team presentations, where we’re put in a room with 3 other startups and we’re presenting the idea, this allows more feedback and it’s more fun.
Anthony: Mentor sessions, you get different perspectives back to back and it shows you things you haven’t looked at. You come out it like “Woah, that was good.” Whether you take it all in or not, it was good information.
Simbai: I appreciate having the structure and being a part of the program that’s hosted by both Rice and UH. When you’re talking about this program, it gives you a sense of legitimacy when talking about it to other people. There’s now a set of expectations for us, because now we carry the unofficial label of UH. It feels good, it’s also added positive pressure.
How would you describe the culture?
Anthony: I think it’s interesting that you said that because I never put the two cultures into perceptive.
Simbai: It’s good to be here with people from different backgrounds and industries. It’s an opportunity for people just to expand their perspective.
Nabil: Yeah, what Simbai said.
How do you feel about the consumption of La Croix here?
Simai: La Croix is a top tier drink that everyone should of enjoy.
Anthony: Role models include: Albert Einstein and La Croix. La Croix motivates me, it gives me substance.
Nabil: After Zeus banished the titans, he celebrated and shared La Croix with all the other gods. Specifically, the Apricot and Passionfruit ones. They took this from the history books. The coconut one sucks though.
Simbai: If you live a good life, and you work hard, and treat people as well as you can, when you die you get to go to La Crosse, Wisconsin. That’s where La Croix is made.
What’s a random fact about you?
Simbai: Collectively, we’re super into the 80s era.
Anthony: I guess I also like the 80s…
Simbai: Anthony and I wear a lot of Tommy Bahamas clothing.
Nabil: I like progressive rock and I watch a lot of anime.
Anthony: Oh yeah, I also love fried pickles.
If this team was a pop culture character/group, what would it be?
Simbai: Here’s what we’re not gonna say, we’re not Silicon Valley. We’re the 1988 Jamaican Bobsledding Team — Cool Runnings (the movie).
Anthony: That will totally be our theme from now on. Unconventional and from Jamaica.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Simbai: Whoever is in charge of this, give Annie (intern) a promotion.
Nabil: We really appreciate the interns and everything they do. It’s one of the most helpful things here.
Anthony: I concur and I really love the Lilie workspace and I really love Rice, it’s a beautiful place.
Simbai: Also, we’re speaking behalf on 3 other team members who aren’t present.
Shoot Technologies consists of Simbai Mutandiro, Anthony Leija, Md Nabil Ahsan, Catherine Derbala, Nicole Aimi, and Yetunde Sola-Adebayo.
– As told to UH RED Labs