In the spring of 2011, it was Daniel Brooks’ senior year of high school when he began revamping an application that he had created earlier in the year. The initial application was designed to help students view their grades on their smart phones, rather than on a desktop. Original smart phones apps were becoming increasingly popular at the time and the program was instantly downloaded by a majority of his peers. As the school year progressed, more of the school, along with other schools throughout the district, were using the application. Once summer came around, the app was being used all over the country, as well as, around the world. Daniel was interviewed and featured by the San Jose Mercury News, which led to even more downloads of the app. With the increased amount of downloads and traffic the article brought, Daniel enlisted the help of his long time friend Douglas Bolm. Douglas, having a background in graphic design, helped to redesign the application and together they decided to make a desktop version of the app to extend to a larger audience.
Summer came and went and Daniel was on his way to CalPoly for college. Douglas was studying locally in the San Jose area and would continue to work on the app. Shortly after the new school semester started, Daniel and Douglas decided to invest everything they had into developing this application to see where it would take them. It was a tough and life changing decision, but they both decided to drop out of school and focus all of their time and energy toward this start up. Many people around them thought this to be a questionable decision, but Daniel and Douglas believed in their idea and they wanted it to thrive.
Daniel and Douglas both got full time jobs to cover personal expenses and help with the cost of maintaining their product, which was now fully branded and established. The program was called Curveu. Anytime they were not working their day jobs, Daniel and Douglas would be engaged in furthering Curveu’s success— even if that meant working until 2am most nights for close to a year. With the number of Curveu users slowly becoming steady, hope started to fade in Curveu’s longevity. It was at a point where action had to be taken, so Douglas inherited all business aspects of the company. He set up meetings with people who could influence the expansion their product, wrote a business plan, created pitch decks, and did anything else that would help to bring attention to Curveu on a larger scale. After having meetings with various people including teachers, administrators, and district level employees, Douglas managed to get a meeting with the San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) Board. The board included his old principal who was now the district’s superintendent.
The meeting with SJUSD went very well and the board was impressed with the ideas for Curveu. They were inspired by the fact that two students educated within their own district were creating something that could do so much for a student. The board decided to endorse Curveu and allowed Daniel and Douglas to present and advertise the Curveu application around the entire San Jose Unified School District. The next step was to push for more meetings in more districts throughout California. However, in order to do that, they would need a boost in their capital.
With a business plan in hand, pitch deck prepared, and a list of contacts, Daniel and Douglas set out to secure funding. They met with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and anyone else they felt would open doors for them. They just needed the chance to get their product in front of the right group of people who would give them the capital needed to further Curveu’s development. Eventually, Daniel and Douglas were granted the opportunity to come present a preliminary pitch to a group of four angel investors. This was a selective process during which potential presenters were chosen to move up through stages and the final stage would be in front of a much larger group of angel investors. It was a difficult task in that neither Daniel nor Douglas had public speaking experience. It was especially daunting knowing that they would be in front of a seasoned group of top investors. Since Douglas was in charge of the business aspects of the presentation, he would be the one to pitch Curveu if it was selected. A week after the vetting process, he was given that chance, marking a huge milestone for Curveu.
On the day of the presentation, the audience was filled with approximately fifty angel investors. As if that wasn’t unnerving enough, Curveu was the last to present. A twenty minute pitch with a five minute Q&A session felt like a lifetime. When it was all over, there were a few people interested and next few months were filled with meetings and introductions. After a couple of months of late nights and long drives to meetings with various investors and entrepreneurs throughout Silicon Valley, Daniel and Douglas failed to receive an injection of capital. Although heartbreaking, it was a huge step in their journey to entrepreneurialism. They needed to find their own way to fund their ideas and products, so the two revolved into software consulting.
With all of the connections Daniel and Douglas had made during their previous venture, it wasn’t long until they had people showing interest in their consulting services. They started deliberating with an education start up based in Louisiana that was funded by a state grant. This allowed both Daniel and Douglas to quit their day jobs and pay themselves full time to work at their own company. While working with the Louisiana based education company, they gained interest from other possible clients, and began working on multiple side projects as well. The additional work allowed them to get office space and develop their company.
They began testing the waters with their own ideas again and were able to see what they could do with their craft. Eventually, they began working on a project that required custom hardware and software that they would develop as their own. This product is mainly used in the Space Industry— more specifically in mission control rooms.
It was quite a journey over the years for Daniel and Douglas. They went from sitting at a kitchen table in the spring of 2017 imagining what it would be like to be their own bosses, to today where they have made that dream a reality. With more than fifteen clients and contracts ranging from six months to four years, Daniel and Douglas have established themselves as a software company that tailors to a broad spectrum of industries.