Love of outdoors leads to innovative avalanche safety
Name: Brint Markle
Company: AvaTech, changing the game in proactive avalanche safety
MBA program: Sloan, class of 2014
Did you arrive at school with a specific business idea? No!
How did the business come about? I put together a team with the help of a fellow student. My own passion for backcountry skiing and mountaineering left me wishing for a tool which could help users proactively understand the snow around them; working with a team of engineers and product designers, I developed AvaTech to do just that.
What classes have helped? A product design class (which had more than just MBA students in it).
What have you done to raise funds? I participated in an accelerator last summer, which helped us raise $30,000 and attract eight angel investors. The eight angels provided $500+ in our seed round. Our team is currently working on our next round of funding.
What has it been like to start a business while in school? Starting AvaTech while in school has been amazing. We’ve been able to build a diverse, talented, and passionate team, learn from great professors and advisers, and benefit from a high energy entrepreneurial ecosystem. MIT has been flexible and incredibly supportive; I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I can’t imagine a better place to start a business than MIT.
Are you going to finish school? On time? I consciously made the decision to finish school rather than dropping out to focus on AvaTech – knowing that studies show those who defer tend not to come back, I really wanted to complete my MBA. I financed my MBA through my own finances, TAships and also scholarships I received related to my entrepreneurial contributions to the community.
What are the big milestones coming up? My primary goal for the next year is to get my product to market. I anticipate continuing to build buzz and excitement, and partnering with my manufacturing partner in Boston for a professional run of between 500 and 1,000 units. I believe that, in addition to helping outdoor enthusiasts like myself practice proactive avalanche safety, AvaTech can have many other applications, including such industries as the military, hydrology, and oil/gas. I will continue exploring other opportunities for AvaTech moving forward.
Where are you going next? As for what’s next, setting up HQ out West, building our team, and launching our first product commercially this fall.