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HPU Students Discuss Their Business Ideas with Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph

Marc Randolph at High Point University
Thought Leader: Marc Randolph
February 20, 2024

Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, High Point University’s Entrepreneur in Residence, mentored students and critiqued their business ideas in HPU’s Entrepreneurship Center during his visit to campus on Feb. 18-19. Randolph smiled as he listened to a business venture proposed by Sean Martin, a senior from Baltimore, Maryland, and Andrew Bilick, a junior from Long Island, New York.

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 20, 2024 – Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, High Point University’s Entrepreneur in Residence, mentored students during his visit to campus on Feb. 18-19. A dozen students pitched their business ventures to Randolph in HPU’s Entrepreneurship Center and gained valuable feedback to move forward with their projects.

“The students in this center are already starting the process of trying to make their ideas actually happen,” said Randolph. “High Point University has done a good job of getting students started. In some ways, the more advanced lesson now is to literally go out and try to collide your idea with real customers. You can do surveys and research all you want, but fundamentally you have to actually get a customer to say yes to something and see if you’re really solving their problem.”

James Fakunle, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said HPU students benefited from Randolph having a conversation with them about their business models instead of simply hearing a quick elevator pitch about their business ideas.

Randolph also shared lunch with students and spoke to Fakunle’s family business class about how a new generation can effectively infuse fresh ideas into a family business. He participated in an interview and a meet-and-greet session on Feb. 18 at HPU’s Innovation Summit.

Vivian Love, a senior entrepreneurship major from San Francisco, California, said she was grateful to hear Randolph’s reaction to her aircierge business, for which she won first place and received $7,000 in start-up funds in HPU’s annual Elevator Pitch Competition last November. She said she recognized the need for this product while spending three months abroad.

While others complimented her idea of a virtual concierge to elevate guest services for Airbnbs, Randolph challenged her conviction that a cube would be needed for the AI service rather than simply a printed QR code personalized for the site.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for his idea of grassroots testing because you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Love. “The more that you test and get the product out there to see how the market reacts, the better chance you have of successfully understanding how your customer will react. Ultimately, it keeps innovation going forward.”

Randolph encouraged two entrepreneurship majors to think of their spring-loaded nicotine patch holder as a wholesale product that could be promotional for a manufacturer. Sean Martin, a senior from Baltimore, Maryland, and Andrew Bilick, a junior from Long Island, New York, said they felt validated after hearing Randolph’s remarks.

“It’s good to know we’re doing the right things, especially when it comes to where we are transitioning between ideas,” said Martin. “If you have something that’s moving forward and going fast, it’s OK to leave other ideas behind and push forward on that one.”

“It’s motivating to just keep going and continue pushing it to where it has to be,” said Bilick.

Maura Malichio, a sophomore from Westchester, New York, also was encouraged by Randolph’s reaction to her Retreat product, an app incentives system to reward people who disconnect from their cellphones to spend uninterrupted time with family, friends and in nature. Randolph found her idea interesting but noted some people are addicted to their cellphones. He advised her to test the concept on friends.

“I thought it was insightful when he told me to see whether people would actually utilize my service for what it’s offering and not cheat the system or simply not use it,” said Malichio.

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