UIUC Team Profiles: Gymnasium

Founders and College Entrepreneur here with another team profile. Every week we’ll be providing you with a profile on a UIUC student startup. This time, we’re chatting with Gymnasium.

Description

Gymnasium is a smartphone app that creates new pathways for citizens to engage with their local governments. We help citizens participate by giving them access to a powerful yet easy-to-use app. In turn, we help local governments gather public input and stay updated on their community, allowing them an alternative from costly and archaic methods of engagement that too often fall short.

Mission

We seek to empower citizens and local leaders to solve the most pressing issues in their community. Society is rapidly changing, and the methods of civic engagement should adapt to these changes.

Team Members and background

Kamil — started tinkering with toys when I was very young. My parents bought a computer when I was a young age and I started playing on it right away, which developed into a love for computer hardware, software, and general technology.

Jeremy — I was born and raised in Tampa, FL. I had a strong interest in cities as a child, drawing maps and building cityscapes with cardboard bricks. That matured into an interest in urban planning, design, and politics. I try to broaden my perspectives as much as possible, studying abroad and traveling to multiple different countries, as well as working in interdisciplinary team environments.

How did you meet?

We initially met in the Floor Hockey Club, playing weekly pickup games and trash-talking each other’s favorite team. We then ran into each other at a SocialFuse event, and began talking about our entrepreneurial ambitions. Kamil was one of the first people to hear about Gymnasium when it was just an idea, and around the beginning of the semester, he joined the team.

If you could give your past self advice, it would be to….

Kamil — Don’t be too picky and take whatever opportunities are presented to you.

Jeremy — Put yourself in as many situations as possible where you feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or feel like the dumbest person in the room. Those situations are how you learn and grow.

Also, time is such a precious resource. It’s not going to move any slower for you. Manage it better and maximize what you have.

Progress so far

Gymnasium is a finalist in the American Planning Association(APA)’s Innovating Planning Apps Contest. Jeremy will be speaking at the APA National Conference on April 3rd in Phoenix to pitch it in pursuit of a cash prize.

What was just an idea has now been refined and validated. We have met with urban planners, in both private and public sectors, in various regions across the country. Meeting with them has given us more clarity in our direction, as well as new ideas we hadn’t thought of.

Though it isn’t near ready for a launch yet, we do have an app prototype that we’re iterating on as we speak.

Next Steps

Continue gathering customer insights, as the end users will be the key to our success. The more, the merrier. We will start talking to more loosely affiliated citizen groups and organizations.

We will continue building our prototype, aiming to engage the citizen in a more immersive experience beyond a mobile app. We’re looking to add one more teammate on the programming side.

We’re committed to building this over the summer if we have the ability to do so, with the intention of doing pilot tests by fall.

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