213L Hammond Building
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E-SHIP student launches business in Silicon Valley
Alex Mann, a 2009 finance graduate and engineering entrepreneurship minor, can feel good in this economy knowing he has job security. That is because Mann, a budding entrepreneur, has successfully conceived his own business and secured funding for the venture—right out of college.
Mann founded AM Analytics, a social media and market intelligence platform that aggregates information about a client’s brand by tracking live conversation through media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, during his senior year at Penn State.
AM Analytics creates an analysis of not only what is being said, but also what the catalyst is, why the user feels that way, where the users are from, and why it matters. The data are then used to generate a visual representation of the analysis through charts and graphs, which the client may use to recognize and track trends to allow for more targeted and efficient marketing.
“If you’re in the fashion industry, for example, a lot of your strategy is going to be guessing at the next hot trends,” said Mann. “If you guess right, you’re going to be successful. If you guess wrong, you’re going lose a lot of money on misdirected marketing.”
“But what if the fashion industry could track trends before they tip into the mainstream?”
Through the service offered by AM Analytics, clients can see what their consumers are saying, where they are from, and what they are talking about for the season. One feature of the platform includes a generated map that displays the concentration and spread of trends in cities and across the United States, helping marketers and advertisers target their efforts.
In August 2009, Mann announced that his company had successfully secured funding through Berkeley Ventures, a startup accelerator that offers access to mentors and advisers, introductions to investors, incubator space, connections to local talent and resources, and a year round program to help the companies grow.
Mann said that his company’s funding will be in the form of a customized program, including a cash stipend, legal work, advisory, and office space.
Securing this type of funding is a huge feat for AM Analytics. According to an article in the Daily Collegian, Chris Doner, executive director at Berkeley Ventures, said that the incubator has received “between 300 and 400 requests for funding, but only about ten to 15 companies have actually received assistance.”
“It was confirmation that someone else believed in this as much as I did,” said Mann in the Daily Collegian article. “Money talks...that’s idea validation.”
Now a Penn State alum, Mann is a star graduate of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor and an inspiration to his peers. The advice he would share with other students hoping to start a business?
“Go do it.”
“Ideas are cheap, and many students have them,” he said. “However, most are too afraid to chase their ideas because there is this predisposition that they will fail miserably. The college system tells us that the only path is to get a job working for someone else after they graduate. But, it doesn’t need to be that way.”
“There are a lot of problems in our country right now, and they’ll ultimately be fixed through entrepreneurs and their ideas. If at any point there was the opportunity to make a career out of a passion and the intent to fix a problem, it’s now.”