Willamette MBAs Collaborate Over Crowdfunding Venture

by University Communications,

Using innovative 360° technology, a recently launched venture called Caracol by three Willamette University MBA students aims to embed interactive panoramas of Mayan ruins, remote islands, underground rivers, and cutting-edge scientific labs throughout an eBook experience for tablets and smartphones. By simply tapping the screen, the reader will experience the unique places and bits of history that make up an intricate plot of twists and interesting characters, including a fascinating villain who, as a young PhD candidate in the 1970s, made a profound archaeological discovery at the Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza which he's kept secret his entire life.

The students, Logan McCune, a current MBA for Professionals student, and Phil Catudal, and Shpatar Morina, both of the Early Career and Career Change (full-time) MBA program, are channeling their entrepreneurial drive. They’re an example of MBA students from both programs coming together to network, share ideas, and launch a venture. Their Willamette MBA education is opening new doors to them, and as Logan points out, “the Willamette MBA for Professionals program has been eye-opening, even for my writing hobby. I’ve based many of my course assignments on my book and how I can apply basic fundamentals of business to formulating, designing, and marketing the book like you would any other product.”

Logan, Phil, and Shpatar hope their venture will be made possible by Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding site gaining popularity with entrepreneurs. They’re currently in the middle of raising the funds for the project through the rapidly growing site and point to numerous articles and media attention about the power of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs.

Logan recalls fondly how he was introduced to Phil Catudal, the founder of vitamin supplements company Zoned (which took a $30,000 combination investment and cash prize at this spring’s California Dreamin’ business plan competition), through a mutual friend. They visited for the first time in the Atkinson School student lounge during which time they got on the topic of Logan’s Caracol book project. Phil immediately latched on to the novel’s unique concepts and recommended that Shpatar Morina, his business partner and media guru at Zoned, become a project member. Many long hours, meetings, and emails later the three completed the design and launch of the project with the assistance of Thomas Hayden, Portland’s Google trusted photographer.

Check out the project’s Kickstarter site to watch the video and learn more about the project and its funding success.

Special thanks to Logan McClune for contributing the information in this article.