Ever wondered what it'd be like to be a grad student and co-found a startup simultaneously? We recently spoke with Ginny Katz to find out!
Before starting her Ph.D. in Human Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Ginny was on a career path to be an emergency manager. During an internship in Lincoln County, Ginny found an urgent need to improve digital communications with the public before, during and after an emergency. This experience inspired her to continue her graduate education and planted the seed for what would become the startup, HazAdapt. Today HazAdapt is an app that offers user-friendly guides for emergencies and disasters, and Ginny emphasized, at its core, the app is designed to be humanity-friendly, "It strives to represent the needs of our diverse communities and provide equitable assets."
Venturing into the app-building arena, one of Ginny's first courses as a Ph.D. student was Human-Computer Interaction. After presenting her app ideas in class, Ginny found many of her fellow grad students were excited by the proposal. Long story short, she wound up co-founding HazAdapt with some of the computer science folks from the class. Ginny explained that HazAdapt is fully integrated into her Ph.D. research as she works to understand what works well in digital communication in the emergency cycle, what does not and what can improve.
At the encouragement of her advisor, James Watson, Ginny linked up with OSU's incubator program, Advantage Accelerator. She told us how she walked into the first meeting with "just an idea and a whole lot of gusto!" Since then, the Advantage Accelerator has invested in the company, helped her and the co-founders assemble a team, draft a business plan and more.
Ginny told us co-founding a startup as a grad student is challenging, but the university offers an excellent opportunity to develop project ideas that require research. She added, "The university is the perfect place to build a team of thoughtful, excited and engaged people." She highlighted just how thankful she is for the HazAdapt team and the community at OSU, explaining that their success thus far would be impossible without it.