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Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Alex Armas ’20 - Music app Baux
Alex Armas ’20, a recent transfer to Lake Forest College, is a junior majoring in Communication with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“I think I wasn’t believing in myself enough to be able to go ahead, pursue it, and even think that I could create such a thing. Once I got over this, and I started to ask for help, that is when things started to happen.”
Alex and fellow programmer are working on an app, called Baux (pronounced box), that solves the problem of playing music via AUX cord in the car. Baux looks at creating a fun and fair way of sharing music in the car that everyone agrees on.
What motivated you to come up with Baux?
Through personal experience. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, there isn’t much to do, especially when you’re under 21. Most of the time my friends and I like to just drive around and listen to music. Since I wasn’t the one driving, I would be in the backseat and when I wanted to listen to a song and suggest it, one of three things would happen to me. I would get denied by one of my friends, or they say they would do it but didn’t really mean it and they ended up forgetting, or they were just hesitant. It was from personal experience, that feeling of annoyed, frustrated, and feeling left out because my music taste was bad. It annoyed me when I couldn’t play a song, so I started thinking I wish there was a way to make it fair
I really want to emphasize that with this app it’s not only about making it fun, ultimately, it’s meant to bring people closer together.
Entrepreneurs often find problems worth solving. Did you think of yourself as an entrepreneur before engaging with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program?
I do consider myself an entrepreneur, especially now with the app. I haven’t created a business yet and a lot of times I would think that I can only call myself an entrepreneur if I already had my own business. I remember when I was at DePaul University, I was at an entrepreneurship club and when I went to the meeting all these kids already had something. I remember before this I didn’t really consider myself an entrepreneur honestly, because I felt like I needed to have something done.
How has the process of starting your own business impacted your self-image?
I feel like once I am done with the app, I will feel really good about myself just because of the idea of starting something on my own, from literally just a thought to an actual thing. Honestly, I would say it has improved my self-image since I’ve started working on it, I feel like I’m finally doing something.
How have you gained more confidence in selling yourself and your ideas?
Most recently, I’m taking this Entrepreneurial Sales class where I have to take a problem and ask people about that problem. I’ve had to ask people whether they had the same problem as me, where they’ve been denied a chance to play music in the car. The fact that people have been saying yes, and telling me more personal stories, has made me more confident in my idea. Just hearing that people have the same problem helps me feel more connected and makes me feel like I am going to help.
What has been the biggest challenge in getting people to help you?
At first, you don’t know what to do really. I don’t know how to code and I don’t know how to make an app. All I really knew is that I wanted to make this app somehow. At first, I was thinking about doing this on my own, I was on YouTube looking at how to code an app. It didn’t work out, it was too complicated for me and it would take too much time. I reached out on Facebook for help, I said I’m looking for someone to help me with an app and work for free, and potentially make something great. The biggest challenge is not asking, honestly. Getting yourself to look for help and not just doing it yourself is a challenge.
Have you found that asking for help is a challenge for you? Why or why not?
I don’t know if other entrepreneurs feel like this too, but I feel like I got scared of other people taking the idea. I felt like if I asked someone they could just run with my idea. Also, for me personally, I didn’t know where to start or where to ask, and that’s a big thing. I didn’t know where to go. The hard is part is finding out where to go, who to ask or what to even ask for.
Entrepreneurs need to know how to reframe failure for a usable data. What has been the failure that has helped you the most throughout this process?
I had the idea of what I wanted to do, but it really took a long time to get to the point where I was actually doing something about it. It was a good amount of time where I was just sitting on the idea and it took my mom telling me to do something about it to actually do something about it. I think I wasn’t believing in myself enough to be able to go ahead, pursue it, and even think that I could create such a thing. Once I got over this, and I started to ask for help, that is when things started to happen.
If you could ask for anything and get it, in the context of your app, who would you ask and for what?
Once it’s done, I would ask and hope that one of the big YouTubers would promote the app on their pages. I think that this can do really well, YouTubers saying yes and getting their millions of viewers to see the app. Also, I hope we can get far in making the app look and be as professional as possible.
Is there anyone that you’ve asked for help and their answer surprised you? Why or why not?
Honestly, asking the guy who is helping me code this app for help and him saying yes surprised me. He’s 17 and has been coding since he was 8 and already has an app. Everything I’ve asked him if he could do, he has said yes.
What’s been the most valuable lesson you have learned throughout this entire process?
One of them is that as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to do everything yourself, and, how easy things can be or things can get if you ask and look for other people’s help. You also have to make sure that the people helping you have the same vision as you and are just as excited about your idea as you are. Another thing that has surprised me is the number of things I could do if I just tried.