Andrew Matthews ’22 juggles more than schoolwork and co-curriculars during the school year. A business in the liberal arts and economics double major who is also a member of the Saints baseball team, Andrew equally spends his time working on strategy sessions, pitch decks, and public relations for Hoppz, an app he co-founded with friends and brought to life during the pandemic.
Hoppz received grant funding thanks to St. Lawrence’s efforts to match entrepreneurs with the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson University. The app connects customers with bars and restaurants to see promotions in real time, easing the decision of where to meet friends for a night out. Andrew serves as chief operating officer, but a startup like Hoppz requires him to wear many hats.
“My tasks change on almost a weekly basis,” he says. “For two weeks, I might focus on raising capital, reaching out to connections, and pitching the idea. I’ve been working a lot on my public speaking and discovering what kind of public speaker I am. In the last few months, I’ve built my own balance sheet and capitalization table.”
Andrew came to St. Lawrence with a drive for innovation, but from day one, connections to professors, alumni, and fellow students have fueled his passion and helped him explore all aspects of entrepreneurship and business development.
“My First-Year Program was Entrepreneurship and the Netflix era with [Adjunct Instructor] Piper Klemm. That class has always stuck with me because we would talk in-depth about startup companies, how they become successful, and how they grow,” he says.
Though he’s found practical applications for much of the coursework required for his majors, Andrew leverages the strong oral and written communication skills that define St. Lawrence’s liberal arts education when pitching the value of his concept to stakeholders.
“I've taken multiple classes outside of my majors that were very presentation heavy. Maybe I wasn't writing press releases or one-pagers for restaurant owners, but I was still putting together a presentation, getting up in front of the class, and showing why my argument was right. It’s a valuable skill to be able to construct a cohesive argument. It’s helped me communicate to establishment owners how my product can help them.”
Beyond the classroom, Laurentians both on campus and off have helped foster an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and inspire the next generation of creative problem-solvers. Andrew credits the LINC Career Mentoring program for connecting him with Jay Twombly ’69, who helped him envision a future for Hoppz.
“I can't speak highly enough about LINC,” says Andrew. “My mentor was in venture capital. He told me about working with different startup companies and how cool it is to work with young, ambitious entrepreneurs and what sort of things his firm looks for when deciding to make an investment.”
Tyler Grochot ’22, a member of the football team and vice president of the student-run Entrepreneurship Club, has also tapped into the alumni network to gain insights for his own business ventures.
“Our alumni network is top notch,” he says. “My LINC mentor and I still talk bi-weekly. He helped me put together an entire business plan and get my thoughts organized. I know from speaking with friends at other schools that my ability to reach out to alumni at different companies for advice is next to none.”
According to Tyler, who is working on a digital platform called ilumi that rewards college students with local deals and promotions when they stay on task, it’s not just faculty and alumni investing in the creative ideas of current students.
“When I was working on a previous model of my software, I met with Information Technology biweekly to talk about how we could incorporate it with the SLU network and how we could put it onto all the desktops on campus,” he says. “Beyond just my professors, the administration and technology team here are super helpful.”
Andrew and Tyler are both members of the Entrepreneurship Club alongside Tyler’s football teammate and club president Ben Barba ’22. The club, though mostly dormant during the pandemic, is a collaborative rather than competitive environment where ideas can flourish and student entrepreneurs can learn from one another.
“A small group of us get together to talk, share ideas, and get input on our projects. We’ll also meet individually to work together and help one another on our ideas,” says Ben, who has worked hard to get the club back up and running.
“Regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial process, we're there to help you flesh out the next steps,” adds Andrew.
As the club looks to collaborate with the next generation of Laurentian leaders and creative problem-solvers, he has a clear message for any aspiring student entrepreneurs.
“It’s 100% possible to explore entrepreneurial interests at St. Lawrence, and you’re not going to be turned away if your idea is too abstract. If you can identify a problem, there are tools here to help you come up with a solution, turn it into a viable product, and get it into the hands of consumers,” Andrew says.
Tyler agrees and sees a bright future for the culture of business innovation at St. Lawrence.
“Entrepreneurship at St. Lawrence is alive and well, but I think the most exciting thing is that it's growing.”
Andrew MatthewsClass of 2022
Andrew is from Rowayton, Connecticut, and attended Millbrook School. An economics and business in the liberal arts double major, he is also a pitcher for the Saints baseball team. He is one of the co-founders of the mobile app Hoppz.
Tyler GrochotClass of 2022
Tyler is from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and attended Saint James School. An economics and business in the liberal arts double major, he's also the quarterback for the Saints football team. He is also the founder of ilumi, a digital platform that partners with nearby businesses to reward college students with deals and promotions when they stay on task.
Ben BarbaClass of 2022
Ben is from Rye, New Hampshire, and attended Phillips Exeter Academy. An economics and business in the liberal arts double major, he is a member of the Saints football team and president of the entrepreneurship club. Ben is the founder of SOCIA, a platform that allows users to consolidate content from any source (Netflix, Instagram, Youtube, etc.) into a single sharable list.