When you are an entrepreneur, your whole life is your work. There is no end to your work days or work weeks. Building a business from the ground up requires an undevoted amount of time and dedication to your craft. No matter how old or young you are when you pursue a business, or how long you have pursued it, it becomes you. This past summer, Founder CampusPro, an Innovate 518 Hotspot Company, Samuel Mere was selected as one of six teams to participate in the 2018 IgniteU NY Accelerator program, located in Troy, NY. Throughout the final pitch day of the accelerator program,, he made a point to speak to every person in the room and inform them about his business. While his competition used this time to go over their presentations or panic, he charmed the room with a smile as bright as the orange shirt he wore underneath his blazer that read CampusPro, “By the way, have you downloaded CampusPro yet?”. Later, he won that competition by a landslide.
In 2015, Samuel Mere came up with the idea of CampusPro while being a Resident Assistant at the University at Albany. He noticed more than a few of his residents had talents and small businesses of their own worth raving about. He also discovered that outside of close friends, it was difficult for these freelancers to build their clientele in a convenient way. He turned to the drawing board on how he could fix this issue and help his residents make more money, from private tutors, cosmetologists to photographers and more freelancing services. A year later CampusPro was born, the mobile app that connects student freelancers with the campus community and a platform that allows student freelancers to conveniently market themselves across campus so they can grow their clientele and make more money on their free time.
When he obtained his undergrad in December 2016, Sam was lucky enough to land a full time job with C.H. Robinson, a Fortune 500 transportation services and third-party logistics company back in his hometown of Syracuse,NY. He was no stranger to the tech industry, securing an internship with Facebook for two summers prior and even working for Apple for a period of time. Nine months later, he realized it just wasn’t enough. He made a decision that most wouldn’t have the nerve to do, quit his job and relocated back to Albany where he knew he had connections to get him where he was going. Aside from working part-time for rent and bills, he has been all CampusPro ever since. With a constant growing user base here at his alma mater UAlbany, CampusPro also hosts a number of interns and has been working on growing his presence at surrounding universities like Siena College, Sage Colleges and College of Saint Rose. Right now it’s just me, he says as far as internal executives go, [we] are working to on-board a potential CTO ... making strides where we are lacking the most, which is technical expertise. He has been searching for a qualified person within his already existing team for a year now, but the process is long and difficult to handle on your own. And he wants to be sure he is making the right choice.
I’ve always believed I’ve had some sort of entrepreneurial blood in me, he went on to explain. My dad had a corner store on the Southside of Syracuse (as well as his Uncle and Grandfather). Growing up he would work in those stores, stocking shelves and cashing out customers making ten dollars a day. When he wasn’t working at the store, he was out reselling video games or collecting cans, “The easiest five cents you could ever make in my opinion”. I watched a lot of Shark Tank, everyone always says they watch Shark Tank right, he laughs, but I didn’t want to force the opportunity to become an entrepreneur. When this problem came across my path it [was] something I really wanted to pursue, it was my first bat at officially becoming an entrepreneur.
His advice to students that were in his position two years ago and wanted to start a business but had no idea where to begin? With the technologies afforded to us in this day and age, Sam’s generation has become the largest population of business owners and entrepreneurs. Time management is key, the now twenty-three year old entrepreneur says, especially as a college student. If you’re really serious about doing something you’re going to have to make those sacrifices, you’re going to have to out the time and effort to give it the best opportunity at success. Some college students say they have this idea and say they are an entrepreneur but going out every weekend and not putting the time into it, he went on to say, I always encourage people to follow their dreams and do what they want to achieve but you have to make sure you set aside the proper resources to make that happen.
CampusPro is currently still active within the IgniteU Community and also a member of the UAlbany Innovation Center and Innovate 518.