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Thinking Outside the Box

by Matt McDonell Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Luke Perkerwicz, who graduated in May 2015 with his BBA in Entrepreneurship, began combining the knowledge and experiences he accumulated from school and beyond to help co-found his first startup even before he received his degree. Luke has been involved with helping AkitaBox to get off the ground since May 2014.

AkitaBox is a Madison-based software company that provides technology solutions to facility managers and owners that reduce expenses and enhance maintenance and operations productivity. It makes it easy to collect, share and understand building information so that users can proactively manage properties, anticipate issues and preemptively stop problems before they occur.

Throughout his time at the UW, Luke was able to build many great relationships simply by putting himself out there to meet people and gain new perspectives. He credits attending as many networking and outside events as possible as the biggest contributor in successfully finding his way into a startup. Without attending all of the events he did while in school, there is a very high probability that he would not be at AkitaBox today. Luke actually met one of his co-founders at an event put on by the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Luke suggests that current students attend as many events as they can. “The more you’re involved the better; it is good to network with a little bit of everyone from everywhere.” One of his regrets is not interacting with more computer science and engineering students to learn more from their different perspectives. “If there are 1 in 100 odds I meet a co-founder at some event, let’s go to 100 events to improve my odds.”

When asked if he had any advice for students who were thinking of becoming involved in a startup he suggests getting involved with something that is new and exciting but to also make sure that you are passionate about it. He also cautioned not to wait too long and just go out and do it. “Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of failing...the best first step is to just start getting involved with different events and seeing different perspectives.”

He also cautions that the faster you can make a decision and be okay with it being wrong the better off you will be. “A lot of times slow decisions end up killing you; you’ll spend a month waiting on a decision and it turns out to be wrong. Whereas, if you just made a bad decision initially it could have led to a better decision in two weeks.”

A final piece of advice is to seek out mentors. There are a lot of great opportunities to meet mentors in the Madison area. You just have to become involved in the startup community. The more you are involved the more opportunities you will have to meet people. Luke also suggests not being afraid to ask people to become mentors. Initially, he thought that successful people were too busy and did not have the time to help him because he was just starting out. He was very pleasantly surprised to find out that “people really like to help people, especially successful people.” He suggests that successful individuals remember being in your position and are more than willing to tell you everything that they did wrong and everything they could have done right to help you out.

If you are interesting in becoming involved in the startup world, take Luke’s advice and begin taking advantage of all of the opportunities that both Madison and the University of Wisconsin have to offer.