After working one summer as an apprentice to an Ohio beekeeper, CEO Ellie Symes returned to campus with a vision. To kick off her sophomore year at Indiana University, Ellie applied for a grant from the Hutton Honors College to help fund the first student-run beehives at IU.
Ellie won her grant, purchased her equipment and the bees, and began managing her hives. But Ellie wasn't satisfied yet. She didn't think her vision had been achieved.
One year later, Ellie received an opportunity to pitch her beekeeping project as the subject of a business consulting assignment at IU's Kelley School of Business. Sitting up front for Ellie's presentation were two friends: Simon Kuntz and Wyatt Wells.
Captivated by Ellie's story about the decline of the bees, the two friends left class that day without exchanging a single word. Overcome with inspiration, they both felt an urge to take action. Although they hadn't spoken to each other about it, both Simon and Wyatt contacted Ellie to become more involved in her project. Ellie invited them to attend a volunteer session she set up for the class, expecting many curious students eager to visit the hives.
Along with a few close friends, Ellie, Simon and Wyatt launched the Beekeeping Club at IU, with a mission to develop a pollinator-friendly campus. Within its first year, the club generated over 300 members and some very flattering media coverage.
The club’s success (in particular, Ellie’s leadership as President) drew the attention of decision-makers at the school, resulting in an invitation to speak during the IU Foundation Board of Directors meeting in October 2015.
Ellie and her team set their sights on the most glaring problem they saw in the beekeeping industry: the dire need for data. Over the next few months, the team worked endlessly to refine their idea for a business aimed at combating hive loss with data analysis.
In early 2016, they submitted a business plan into Indiana University's "Building Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology" competition, an opportunity for students to pitch a business plan in front of 20 high-profile investors.
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