Lifelong Briarcliff buddies and college juniors Doug Messer and Brendan Weinstein recently chose to forgo a spring semester in Florence, Italy, in favor of hunkering down in their Elmsford office. It’s from there that the duo is launching University Beyond, which, when it goes live in July, will connect undergrads looking for brand ambassadorships (product-placement gigs, in which students are hired to help promote corporate brands on campus) with companies looking to hire them.
And this isn’t their first go-around as entrepreneurs. At just 16 years old, Messer and Weinstein launched their first venture, DBFLY Watches, selling watches with interchangeable faces and bands, a product that landed in People magazine in 2012.
The idea for University Beyond, which sprang from a previous entrepreneurial venture producing and promoting live events at their universities (Messer at Syracuse University, Weinstein at Indiana University), is making a splash on the startup scene. “We’re still in our seed round of funding in which we hope to raise more than $100,000,” says Messer. University Beyond also won the backing of Structure Partners, an LA-based startup accelerator that provides office space, introductions to key players in the tech market, and mentoring—and the co-founders are negotiating with institutional and angel investors to raise additional capital.
Messer runs the sales, client relationships, and marketing while Weinstein takes the technical/web reins. “We have about 50 companies on board,” reports Messer. If all goes well, the pair plan to move headquarters to San Francisco next fall, right about the time their senior year is set to begin. They are willing to put school on hold if University Beyond continues to gain traction.
“We’re going to see where it takes us, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to make it,” says Weinstein.