Have you ever had a brilliant, game-changing idea? An idea that could become the next ‘Google’ or the next ‘Amazon’? Have you thought of a product or service that would change the world forever? If so, you need to know about Patrick Prioletti G’21 (School of information Studies) and his venture, Thinc-hub.
Prioletti, a LaunchPad Global Fellow and peer mentor, is a graduate research student studying applied data science at the iSchool, and founder of Thinc-hub, a platform to break down barriers that stand between a really good idea and a great market launch. As he was building his own startup, he noticed that one of the biggest challenges to taking an idea from concept to commercialization is building a core team. “People typically don’t connect outside of their immediate network and classmates, even for professionals,” he explains. He discovered that individuals working and learning in one space, rarely interact beyond their own circles, leading to situations where even if founders have a brilliant idea, they most likely have expertise in one area, but not other key areas. They tend to talk and hang out with the people who also have the same basic skill sets. This means that founders typically excel in one aspect of the business, but probably don’t even have a clue as to the rest, which makes for a steep learning curve, lots of trial and error, and mistakes. Founders need to build teams with multiple experts that don’t overlap.
As Prioletti puts it, Thinc-hub aims to overcome that phenomenon. By utilizing machine learning, Thinc-hub will be a platform where entrepreneurs can meet people with different skillsets and create more effective teams. That increases the likelihood of an idea being successfully executed.
By providing an equal platform for all ideas and giving those ideas a fair shot at fruition, entrepreneurs can often carve out a path to market that is less reliant on outside equity investors, meaning the core founding team who conceived the revolutionary product or service has more ownership control over it.
What’s more, by engaging in active discussions and interacting with people who have different opinions and skills, supported by external customer discovery, the idea itself goes through iterations that better serve the market.
Why isn’t there already this kind of team building, resource-sharing, network-connecting platform in the startup world? Prioletti had the same question. As someone who has a natural interest in nuclear engineering and effective solutions to detrimental environmental problems, he was frustrated by the lack of attention that a Thorium based nuclear disposal system was getting. Citing an MIT research paper which outlined the Thorium fuel-cell results, Prioletti was inclined to further develop that system and deploy it into the market. However, due to gaps in his knowledge base and social circle, he was forced to shelve the initiative. “It’s the same thing over and over again, where the chances of finding people who have the knowledge and want to work together dwindle as the seconds move by.” After confronting the same barriers over and over again, he decided to create a solution for himself, and for other entrepreneurs who found themselves in the same boat.
He came to Syracuse University after completing an undergraduate degree at SUNY Oswego in business administration and economics. “As a lifelong technology enthusiast, data science is the perfect profession for a natural-born adventurer living in the 21st century,” he says. “I aim to take the practice I love into the world to explore new pathways and expose practices that can lead a better future for everyone … And to discover some really awesome things on the way.”
One of the things he learned is how hard it is to build a team. As he developed Thinc-Hub at SU, Prioletti initially formed a team of economic majors and software engineers but after slow progress and a growing lack of interest from the team, he set out to create a first prototype himself. Despite being a primitive version, the website was up and running. “It was a good step, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was alone with this idea, and if I didn’t decide to push forward and find people, it would’ve died.”
To keep the spark alive, he set out to build another team, this time one that was just as invested in it as he was. He found a computer science major graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and a friend. Together, they are putting the platform through a major revision. Thinc-hub, which is currently set to be hosted on Amazon’s AWS platform, is set to release an Alpha version this summer and a full-fledged product in a year’s timeframe.
Prioletti credits the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries with a lot of the success that Thinc-hub currently has. “At the time when we came in here, we knew the technology that we were working on was cool and had a lot of potential, but we didn’t know where were going with it.” The LaunchPad thought he had the same potential as it was looking to build out its team, and immediately brought him as a Global Fellow, specializing in software development, data science and data analytics. Now he collaborates with other entrepreneurs across campus, helping them connect the dots on their ventures, while he is building his own startup. He notes that the collaborative community culture at the LaunchPad provides the dynamic environment necessary for a company like Thinc-hub to flourish and grow.
“As a person with well-developed database utilization skills and a passion for the entrepreneurial success on and off campus, working at the LaunchPad is great opportunity to explore ways to further implement technology into the public and academic sphere regarding entrepreneurship.” When he isn’t building Thinc-Hub’s software platform, Prioletti is helping build a literal think tank for innovators and entrepreneurs at Syracuse University as part of the LaunchPad team. You’ll find him in Bird Library working on ideas, mentoring other startups, and leading some of the most interesting conversations on campus – on everything from macropolicy cost-benefit analyses, to energy efficiency, physics, propulsion systems, tech startups, coding and Star Wars.
It was serendipity that brought Prioletti into the LaunchPad last summer. He was wearing a Star Wars shirt that day. It might have been a lucky random creative collision that brought him there on the right day, at the right time, for the right conversation. But, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” Entrepreneurs can’t count on luck to build great teams. Thankfully, they can count on Thinc-Hub. Drop by the LaunchPad, to meet him and connect.
Story by Krishna Pamidi, Blackstone Global Media Fellow