How to not get stuck on just one startup idea!

1/24/2019 2:56:46 PM Urvashi Jha, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Lack of desired results is not the end of your entrepreneurial journey, and success is not necessarily always the result. If there is anyone who should know this well, it is Mrinaal Mittal, who is now working on his fourth startup on campus. A senior pursuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Innovation, Leadership and Engineering Entrepreneurship, and a minor in South Asian Studies and Business, Mrinaal is persistent with his entrepreneurial pursuits.

TranslAPI, Great Mind Exchange, PuStack, and now Turkbox, each startup has been a learning experience for him. Mrinaal says, “When I was working on TranlAPI, a translation app that would have been an interface between customers and businesses, I realized the startup wouldn’t succeed with the entry of Google, Microsoft and other big companies offering a similar product. I decided not to work on TranslAPI. Around the same time the Great Mind Exchange idea came about during a trip to Polsky Center in Chicago and I chased that instead.”

Great Mind Exchange is a platform to help entrepreneurs look for teammates and for students to find startups. However, the platform didn’t get the expected response. “Right now the incentive to spend my time on Great Mind Exchange is none. Though the platform is up and running, I moved on to developing another startup idea,” Mrinaal says. He is now focused on Turkbox and PuStack. Mrinaal adds that he is not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

PuStack is an educational startup with a YouTube channel and an Android app for students in India. His friend Divyam Gupta, who is based in India, is the founder. “PuStack is doing well. It is similar to Khan Academy here. However, the PuStack YouTube channel has a higher number of subscribers (366,946) in India than the Khan Academy India channel (47,758). Right now PuStack caters to high school students in India but we plan to expand our content to 4th grade through college to increase our subscriber base.”

Besides PuStack Mrinaal is excited about Turkbox. Turkbox is a content monetization platform that allows websites, blogs and online publications to embed widgets containing quick data classification and annotation tasks, such as identifying obstacles for self-driving cars. Readers complete these tasks, and in exchange, get access to the content for free. For every classification performed, Turkbox pays the website.

The growing use of paywalls and paid subscription-based online content can be a deterrent for smaller publications and blogs as they alienate users that aren’t willing to subscribe. In addition, there’s also a concern about how users are tracked across websites by cross-site scripts and injected advertisements. Instead, Turkbox is creating crowd-sourcing data classification to keep content on the internet free and accessible.

Mrinaal Mittal says, “Turkbox is in the customer discovery phase right now, with a ready prototype. Content monetization comes with huge privacy infringement issues and this is w

here Turkbox comes in. Turkbox will not collect any personal information.  Our target audience is market research groups that use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning besides bloggers and online content publishers.”

Mrinaal comes from a family that is not new to entrepreneurship. His family operates several businesses in India. He says, “I always dreamt of owning a business venture and the entrepreneurship resources available on campus further pushed me towards my entrepreneurial dreams. Programs such as Cozad New Venture Challenge, SocialFuse, iVenture Accelerator, Research Park, I-Corps, ILEE degree, all helped me refine my startup ideas. I got to network with like-minded people, I got free advice from experienced professors, mentoring support, and so much more.” Mirnaal feels that a plethora of resources and academic programs make college the best place to launch a startup.

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