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Beta.MN Startup Showcase: Homi

This is first of a series of articles highlighting the Startup companies that participated in the recent Beta.MN 2.5 event, held Sept 8, 2015 in Minneapolis, MN

Homi web site

I have a couple of questions for you..

  • Did you go to a college?
  • Are you currently GOING to a college?
  • Do you represent a business interested in connecting with potential college interns or hires?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Homi might be a good app for you to check out. Homi connects students to alumni to businesses, for networking, mentoring, referring, and potential hiring of new talent. From the site…

Alumni are just one click away

Open access to the largest community of students and alumni,
all here to connect with you. Share stories, build relationships.
It’s time to dive in.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Homi CEO and head of business development, Philip Xiao, to learn more about their company, product, and goals. Below is a summary of some of my questions and his paraphrased answers.

How long have you been in business?

They’re a brand-new business, just getting off the ground. If you look at their web site, you’ll see that most (nearly all) of their key employees are either attending or have recently graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

“We started Homi in May 2015, signed up over 20% of campus and were funded to run with it after graduation. We spent the summer building out new site features and mobile apps and are gearing up for rollout at colleges all over the Midwest.’

How are you initially connecting with students? Are you approaching the career centers or career counseling at various colleges?

Actually, no. They have found that career centers are “too generic”. They are getting a better result connecting with alumni and relying on first-hand connections. Initially they’ve been working with alumni of Carleton College as well as other nearby colleges and their alumni.

“We have taken an unconventional approach with our go to market strategy. When we first started Homi, we also started a free late night Chinese food delivery service to get the word out. All users had to do was check out Homi and give us their feedback on it. We went to alumni reunion and printed name badges with name, year and major for every single attendee. We also have a campus ambassador program at each school, which consists of 15-20 students who believe in the Homi vision and are excited to help with the go-to-market effort. “

What technology are you building the product with?

They’re using the various studios (Android and iOS) to build their app for iOS and Android. The app is in the Google Play store, and has been submitted to the Apple store, so will be there very soon. Data is using MongoDB.

Additional Info: Homi is powered by Node.js and uses MongoDB for data persistence. Test driven development drives our engineering methodology. Our responsive web layout emphasizes use on mobile and desktop browsers, but our RESTful API allows for upcoming native apps on both iOS and Android to engage users on the go with push notifications and mobile interactions.

What are you using on the back-end for cloud-based resources?

AWS and Digital Ocean.

How many employees (fulltime, part-time, or contract) do you have working on the product right now?

“We are a team of 7, 4 full-time, 2 still in school and 1 consulting.”

What are you doing for funding? Do you have investors?

“We are in the process of closing out our funding round. Current investors: Cathy James (Enterprise Assets), Rishi Vij (Vantage Point Partners) and Tim Drane (Goldman Sachs). We reached out to mentors who have helped guide us throughout our careers and believe in our team and product.”

I thank Philip for his time and wish him great success! And I hope you’ll watch this blog in the coming days and weeks as I showcase more Minnesota startups.