Check out the interview with the EcoQube team about their forays into the world of entrepreneurship.
- Kevin Liang (Ecology, Behavior & Evolution Major), Co-Founder/ CEO
- Eric Suen (Economics Major), Co-Founder
- Ryan Morimoto (Chemical Engineering Major, Business Minor), VP of Marketing & Sales
- What is your business and how did you get you get started?
We create desktop ecosystems for people to enjoy in homes, schools, and offices.
We started the business when we were in high school, but it wasn’t the same business as the one today. We started off breeding and selling rare shrimps to aquarium hobbyists online. As we got more familiar with the aquarium hobby by working at great fish stores and participating in online forums, we were able to do aquarium installations for people in their homes and offices. This was when ADI (Aqua Design Innovations) got started.
- What is it like starting your own business?
It was very fun when we started. We were amazed that people would pay us to set up tanks, something that we loved to do, for money. We were able to buy equipment and set up tanks that we wouldn’t have been able to afford for ourselves. This was the exciting part for us.
We tried to do the same aquarium installation business that we had success with in San Francisco in San Diego. “We’re in La Jolla! People would love tanks here!” Of course, things don’t always go as planned. We went door to door trying to get people, firms, and businesses to set up an amazing aquarium with no luck. We eventually changed the business into an online retailer for fish, plants, and equipment – something we had sources to due to our installation business.
- What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own business?
I think the most challenging thing in the beginning is figuring out the right things to do.
- What steps did you take to expand your business?
ADI is where it is today because we decided to take a leap of faith on Kickstarter. When the first one did well, it was very surprising and opened up a lot of opportunities for us.
- What are your future goals with your business?
Our goal with the EcoQube is to not only bring a piece of nature to your desktop, but also to educate people about aquaponics and ecosystems. We think aquaponics is the future of agriculture and will solve many problems that our world faces: fresh water shortage, chemicals in our food, and over usage of land for farming.
- What classes at Rady have you found to be the most valuable?
MGT164: Organizational leadership and MGT106: Sales/ Sales management. Organizational leadership helped me learn who I am as a leader. I learned what my style is, who influenced me, and how my interactions with other people are be interpreted. I learned the difference between rationalization and emotion, and how they both play a role in leadership.
The sales class taught me the importance of negotiation and impressions you leave with people. Negotiation occurs in business on all levels including negotiating with your coworkers, boss, and customers. I learned how successful business are built over lasting relationships and partnerships, so the impression you leave with other businesses is very important.
- What resources on and off campus have helped you start your business?
We used a lot of the resources provided by the Moxie Center.
Books have also played an important role to the way we think. We read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and also listen to his podcasts.
- What qualities do you look for in a business partner?
The most important thing is to find someone who is passionate and excited about the business and is willing to spend a lot of time on the business.
- What piece of advice would you give to someone starting their business?
Don’t lose the passion. Set a vision, surround yourself with the right people, and love your job.
- Where can we learn more about your business?
You can see more here:
Interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and innovation? Take a look at our new Rady Undergraduate minor starting in the fall of 2015: Entrepreneurship & Innovation Minor.