Alex Woloshin (‘14) sat down with E@D to discuss the experiences that lead him to become the CTO of SnappyScreen. SnappyScreen, a start-up founded by Kristen McClellan (’12), is the first touchless sunscreen application system (for more information about the product visit http://snappyscreen.com). Before working for SnappyScreen, Alex Woloshin engaged in entrepreneurial opportunities at Cornell working for the start-up Party Headphones, a silent disco company owned by a part time Cornell student.
Tell us about your role on the SnappyScreen team.
I am the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of SnappyScreen. When most people think of a CTO, they usually think of a person who handles only software. With a startup, your role is often much greater than any single job description. At SnappyScreen, I manage everything machine related including organizing manufacturing, managing contractors, technical workers and engineers, and 3D modeling. I am responsible for ensuring the machines are operating at 100% all the time and oversee inventory to build machines for upcoming implementations. I enjoy working on a small team because even though each of the core members has a specialty, we are all equally dedicated and work well together as a group. Also, as a small team, you are learning new skills everyday and are constantly making a direct impact on the future of the business.
What was it like working for a start-up immediately after graduating college?
Working for a startup gives you experiences that not many young people are able to have early on in their careers. There are times in the business where I am presenting directly to the general manager of a hotel or leading calls with our contractors. Interacting with senior level customers is definitely a unique opportunity afforded to me as part of a start-up team. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, your actions always have a concrete effect on the entire business. It is very rewarding to be able to implement an idea and see the outcome immediately. Since there is an accelerated learning curve at a small company, you will be well prepared as a leader in your current role for opportunities later on in your career.
Are you currently working on any new projects at SnappyScreen?
We are in a very exciting phase of growth at SnappyScreen. We launched the device at the Four Seasons in December and have continued to roll-out to 4 and 5-star hotels across the US and the Caribbean. The brands we are currently working with are looking to expand and we are now on track to roll-out an additional 50 machines. We are also in the process of raising our next round of funding to hire additional team members.
What skill is most important to your work at SnappyScreen?
You have to be adaptable. You can’t have just one specific skill; you have to be willing to take on new challenges and learn new things on your own. Being a self-starter is very important in an entrepreneurial environment. I have been able to pick up several new skills over the course of the last two years. For example, at SnappyScreen I have learned how to build a website as well as learn about the engineering process behind the product.
Is there a message you would like to send to aspiring entrepreneurs interested in working at a start-up?
You don’t have to start a company to be an entrepreneur. However, you should treat the company like it’s your own in order to help it grow. You really need to dedicate yourself to making the company successful. Find people around you that will support your initiatives. Having support from my family and friends has been very important for me in my career.
If you would like to learn more about SnappyScreen, please check out the E@D article on founder of SnappyScreen Kristen McClellan ’12: http://eship.dyson.cornell.edu/blog/2013/01/16/snappyscreen-kristen-mcclellan/.