While attending the University of Maryland, Obidi Orakwusi turned an idea into reality:

How did you balance being an entrepreneur and a full-time student?

It’s all about time management, because once you enter the real world, you are no longer managing time, but time is managing you. The earlier you start, the more opportunities you have to get it right.

Orakwusi seeing his vision realized

What have been your greatest obstacles and how have you overcome them?

My greatest obstacle has been the lack of funding, which ultimately affects the ability to have a strong marketing strategy. You can have a product that everybody would love, but if you don’t have the resources to market it, then no one will be able to find it.

How did you realize who your target customer was?

It was trial and error. I stood in front of the recreation center to show any students that gave me their attention a video of how the Mega Bar works. I ended up interviewing over 120 students in a month, and that process helped me understand that the demographic of 18-22 year-olds was not my ideal market.

I shifted the focus to a market of working professionals who had money, but limited time.

How did you get startup funds?

Most of the money came from a work study job l had at a computer lab on campus. I saved every check that I got from that work study job, and by the end of the school year, I had enough funds to put into finishing product development. After that, I won my first competition from my school’s entrepreneurship program.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who want to turn an idea into a patented product?

Do a lot of research on your idea to find out what already exists. You don’t want to go deep into developing a product that already has a patent. One thing I did when I started developing the Mega Bar was to search the patent database to see what was out there. Anytime I felt that something looked similar, I would go back to the drawing board.

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