Innovation Accelerator Helps Launch Shizzlr, Social Planning Tool Created by UConn MBAs

Storrs, CT (5/14/2010) -

College students use three primary mediums to gather information to make social plans; text messaging, instant messaging, and social networks. Research shows the average student has 1000 friends on Facebook and uses the three mediums to communicate daily with 150 of them about upcoming social plans.  Two University of Connecticut School of Business recent graduates, Keith Bessette ’10 MBA and Nick Jaensch ’10 MBA, have identified a need for social activity awareness and planning; and they, with the help the Innovation Accelerator (IA) at the University of Connecticut School of Business,  have responded with a service called Shizzlr.

Shizzlr is an free, platform-agnostic social planning tool that works as a Facebook application, on mobile devices, and from the website, Shizzlr.com.  Shizzlr aggregates and organizes information about friends' social plans, community events, local establishments, and other information required for successful social plan making.  By marrying social plans with local businesses and establishments, Shizzlr provides an opportunity for revenue enhancing and branding opportunities for businesses in addition to increasing location traffic and tracking attendant patterns. Contrasting to its competitors, social calendar and real-time check-in applications such as Plancast, Foursquare and GoWalla, this service is about where you are going, not where you are now. Shizzlr is also platform agnostic; it’s a website, Facebook app, mobile site, and includes text messaging.


While developing Shizzlr, Keith and Nick were also pursuing their MBA in Venture Consulting at the UConn School of Business; they graduated from the program on May  7, 2010. While in the MBA program, they were accepted to the IA, not as students, but as an entrepreneurial company with a project engagement for the accelerator.  The IA, one of the primary outreach initiatives of UConn’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI), assists entrepreneurial ventures in addressing myriad challenges associated with the identification and capture of business opportunities.  The IA utilizes interdisciplinary project teams comprised of graduate and undergraduate students that innovatively solve complex business issues for Connecticut’s technology-based entrepreneurial ventures.  Rich Dino, Executive Director, CCEI; and Luke Weinstein, Director and Faculty, IA, served as the advisory board for this project.


The IA's project with Shizzlr is unique in that the project is a technology company developed while at the University of Connecticut that did not come about from an academic exercise and there were no faculty involved in creating the project. Over the past 8 months, Shizzlr has been evolving as a beta product at the University of Connecticut.  With 1000 students using the product, it has received very critical and significant feedback from the student community.  Shizzlr is currently in process of evolving from this beta stage to a fully enabled production stage and national rollout. 

Shizzlr won the 2010 Connecticut State Collegiate Business Plan Competition held at the Yale Lawn Club in New Haven on Friday, April 23, 2010. The competition was sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Foundation. They took first place in the Venture Enterprise category of which there were over 100 entrants. While previously in beta, on May 15, 2010, Shizzlr.com will be completely to the public.


 


ABOUT THE STUDENTS

Keith Bessette (co-founder)
Mr. Bessette has a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science and an MBA in Venture Consulting from the University of Connecticut. In 2000 he co-founded Estorrs.com, a university based social network at UConn prior to the ubiquitous popularity of social networking. Keith also co-founded Mobile Link Solutions in 2004 which was a mobile workforce application for field technicians. EStorrs was dissolved after the founders graduated in 2001, and Mobile Link Solutions was sold as a beta product to their pilot customer.  Hometown: Orange, CT.

Nick Jaensch (co-founder)
Mr. Jaensch graduated with a B.S. in Marketing in 2008, and an MBA in Venture Consulting in 2010, both from the University of Connecticut. Before beginning the MBA program he worked for two entrepreneurial growth companies over a 3 year span. The most recent stint of employment was at Semprae laboratories where he worked with their lead funding team on their development and product portfolio strategy. Hometown: Pawcatuck, CT.


 


CONTACT INFORMATION


For more information, please contact:

Marie LeBlanc, Publicity and Marketing Manager, University of Connecticut School of Business
860-486-6182, mleblanc@business.uconn.edu

Rich Dino
860-486-4483, rdino@business.uconn.edu

Luke Weinstein
860-728-2170, lweinstein@business.uconn.edu

Nick Jaensch, Co-Founder, Shizzlr
Nicholas.Jaensch@business.uconn.edu



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