UMSL Accelerate provides many entrepreneurship courses, a world-class entrepreneurship certificate and fosters innovation and entrepreneurship through the Entrepreneur in Residence program. Jake Schmidt, Founder at Fidgetly, is one of the students who enrolled in the EiR program and regularly meets our successful mentors for guidance and help.
Tamas Javor: Jake, please tell me a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial endeavors.
Jake: I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was in 4th grade going to Costco buying candy bars in bulk and then selling them to my fellow classmates. From there I started a lawn care business with two of my friends and at the peak had more than 5 clients. I eventually stumbled across digital advertising and knew right away digital advertising was for me.
TJ: Is your major related to your ventures?
Jake: Yes, I’m a senior in Marketing.
TJ: What are you working on now?
Jake: I’m deeply involved in two businesses right now. First, I run a marketing agency with my co-founder and we have 2 employees. We focus on Facebook and Instagram influencer marketing for our clients and we run campaigns for them to build their brands and drive sales.
On the other hand, we have launched Fidgetly in December 2016 when we shot a video of our fidget spinner that became a huge success. We generated a 10x return on our initial investment and after two months we partnered up with a development agency and I moved to California for the summer to perfect the product and develop the supporting services. After 6 months of hard work, we launched our new smart fidget spinners in October and you can find us in various stores and online.
TJ: Those are a lot of moving parts. How do you manage your time?
Jake: I don’t have much time for traditional hobbies. *laughs* My education at UMSL has been helpful and I try to take as many online classes as I can. I have never had a problem with procrastination so it’s a great option for me. My hobby is working on my businesses.
TJ: The results show that. How did you get into retail giants like BestBuy?
Jake: That was an educational experience because they have a well-developed process to follow. They tested the product for safety purposes, we had to work on a tender application, get certifications and many other small things that took us about 2.5 months.
TJ: What does the Fidgetly operation look like now?
Jake: Our CEO is responsible for the day-to-day operations while I, the Founder, am responsible for user acquisition and managing our retail relationships. We also have 3 employees on the product side – application/hardware developer, application support, and customer service.
TJ: You also fully utilize co-curricular activities and you are involved with UMSL Accelerate in the Entrepreneur in Residence program, right?
Jake: Yes, Dan Lauer has been coaching me on various aspects of my business such as PR. The EiR program also opened doors to opportunities that I would not have had access to before, like talking with premiumretails.com about a collaboration.
Question: What are the next steps?
Jake: Well, I’d love to keep working with Dan and UMSL Accelerate on how to market our product and get more in-store sales.