It is rare for the first venture of any entrepreneur to find traction given the great learning curve involved with starting a business. A culture of “fail fast” around entrepreneurship stresses the role of knowledge gained from venture development, and evidence shows that it often takes an entrepreneur two, three, or more startups before they identify "the one" venture that puts the them in a good position for growth.
Such was the case with William Schoeffler, a junior studying marketing and business analytics. As a freshman, Schoeffler had developed a caffeinated snack product that won him a $5,000 RAINMaker Student Entrepreneurial Seed Grant. But as he started to scale the venture and execute his business model, he learned the hard truth about distribution and margin challenges in the food industry. He then pivoted on to his next venture, Instashowing.
The idea for Instashowing came to Schoeffler when his parents bought their new home. His family’s real estate agent kept complaining about how much time it took to get all interested parties—the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller, and the seller’s agent—on the same page to schedule a showing. Schoeffler thought there must be a better way.
“That can be solved with software!” he said. “I’ve seen similar things in different industries. Why can’t you just do that for real estate?”
“I went home and got a notepad and started drawing out sketches for an app that would solve the issue,” he said.
The Instashowing mission was born: make scheduling a real estate showing easy and seamless. Schoeffler began working with software developers to flesh out his idea. He also continued to seek out assistance from the campus and community entrepreneurial ecosystem to help him build his business model and move his venture forward.
“The Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship really helped me to understand what consumers and investors are looking for and how to articulate it, as well as gaining a understanding of what goes into starting a company, and how to push a business concept forward,” he said.
"I remember my freshman year at the QuackTrackPitch elevator pitch competition where I was running around Hayward Field with a microphone pitching a business venture to investors and judges in the stand—it was wild. There are few places that provide opportunities and space that let you develop through events like that.”
Another entrepreneurial organization that Schoeffler sought out was Starve Ups—a peer mentoring organization for founders by founders, with chapters in cities all over Oregon, including Eugene, Portland, and Bend. With a competitive application process, Schoeffler tried once before, with his first venture, to get into Starve Ups, but he was unsuccessful.
This time, Schoeffler’s entrepreneurial growth and maturity from having learned from a prior venture showed through in his Starve Ups application. The idea resonated. With Instashowing, Schoeffler became one of the youngest founders to ever be admitted to the organization.
As a member of Starve Ups, Schoeffler gains a support system of other more experienced entrepreneurs who have faced the same challenges he expects to go through taking Instashowing to the next level.
“William has shown dedication, has overcome multiple hurdles with his business, and has accomplished a lot of traction over the past year. I am excited to see where his business will go,” said Starve Ups board member and Oregon alumnus Nathan Gustafson ’06.
Schoeffler appreciates all the opportunities provided by the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship.
“They do such a good job making a community for entrepreneurs,” he said. “If you really want to be an entrepreneur, the University of Oregon is the best place to be.”
And to Lundquist Center students who may feel too young or inexperienced to explore their startup concept, Schoeffler said to “just start trying.”
“The most important thing is to start. The idea might fail but you’ll gain so much knowledge and invaluable experiences that it becomes a catalyst for future success.” he said.