Mukai Selekwa has become somewhat of a poster child for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).
The program, which was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004, teaches high school students how to start and run their own businesses. In the spring of 2016, the Chamber of Commerce brought YEA! to the F-M– and Selekwa was part of the inaugural class.
During his senior year at Davies High, Selekwa brainstormed business ideas, wrote up a business plan and, in March, pitched his plan to potential investors in a Shark Tank-esque panel. Selekwa recieved $2,400 in funding at that panel– the most out of the four competitors– and moved on to the national competition in Rochester.
Selekwa did not win the national competition in May, but that did not stop him taking his idea and running with it (even graduating high school a semester early to get a head start).
A tool for individuals
That idea was Webblen, a social media management service designed to fill the holes Selekwa found in services like Hootsuite and Buffer.
“Overall, this is software to basically revolutionize the way you use social media, and possibly the Internet in general,” he said.
To Selekwa, these existing services seemed branded toward businesses and professional marketing teams. He wanted to create something more individualized, flexible, and appealing.
“It’s not just a business tool,” he said. “It’s a tool for individuals.”
Like existing systems, Webblen provides a single dashboard to see all accounts, options to schedule tasks for each account, and analytics to view activity and traffic. What Selekwa calls the “very special function” of Webblen is the if/then function, which allows users to perform situational tasks. For example, if a post gets 100 likes on one platform, then you can automatically share it to another account. If a post does not get the traffic you want, then you can take it down automatically.
In the past year, Selekwa’s business has grown from a team of one to three. Nate Thoreson, a fellow Eagle-turned-Bison and long-time friend, joined last spring as Vice President and head of marketing. Austin Braham, a sophomore at NDSU, joined the team recently to assist with finances– not long after being named the 2016 International Champion in Banking Financial Services at the Collegiate DECA Inc. International Career Development Conference in Washington, D.C.
And with new members have come new ideas. Selekwa and his team hope to further revolutionize Webblen by allowing users to link up any online accounts, such as invoices, along with social media. They also want to localize the system, allowing you to recieve notifications about events happening around you. Selekwa believes that this function will make Webblen useful for businesses, as a marketing tool to get more people to their events.
“Webblen is the site that gives you wings to set off your online persona,” reads their company description. “With those wings, it’s up to you as to whether or not you want to fly.”
In the next month, Selekwa will begin packing for college and continue to seek out programmers and funding for Webblen. On August 16th, he will present his ideas at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of Technology, speaking between the president of Microsoft and the CEO of Aldevron.
You know, typical teenager stuff.
Hear more from Mukai at 1 Million Cups’ Internship Day on July 27th at the Stage at Island Park!