Alumni Check-In: Fitch Carrere, PopUp
Top-notch office space in Durham’s American Tobacco Campus, a network of connected professionals and up to $200,000 in funding. It sounds like a fictional dreamland to any entrepreneur, but it’s a reality for Fitch Carrere, co-founder of PopUp and UNC Entrepreneurship Minor alumnus. We sat down with Carrere to chat about how he landed this sweet gig, his greatest takeaways from the E-minor and his advice for current students.
PopUp is a smartphone app designed to place a layer of digital information on reality. The user’s location unlocks experience-enriching content in a popup, whether it’s a Wikipedia article about the surrounding area, a beer special at the bar you just entered, or a note left by a friend. All the user has to do is choose to “follow” the information source, much like on twitter. Carrere described the PopUp experience as serendipitous moments of discovery as the user moves from place to place.
“A Wikipedia article about what American Tobacco Campus previously was would be interesting to me if I was sitting here, and it’d be even more interesting if it was just brought to me,” Carrere explained, “and that’s what PopUp does.”
PopUp is currently under the wing of Triangle Startup Factory, an intensive, three-month accelerator program nestled in the American Underground. TSF provides the capital, mentorship and office space PopUp needs to succeed as a fledgling startup.
Carrere credits the entrepreneurship minor for allowing him access to the opportunities that led him to co-founding PopUp. “The minor was literally the best thing I did in all 4 years at Carolina,” Carrere said, “Because I was lucky enough to get an Innovation Fellows Scholarship to be in New York, I got amazing real world experience working in a startup.”
Carrere before going to New York as an Innovation Fellow, Carrere snagged an internship with Appia, the world’s largets open app marketplace, by responding to a request on the minor’s listserv his junior year. At Appia, Carrere met Dov Cohn, Senior VP of Products and Marketing, and together they began to formulate the foundation for what would become PopUp. The idea stuck with Carrere, and after he graduated from UNC in May, he and his co-founders applied and were accepted into TSF.
Carrere still remembers professor Joe DiSimone charging his class to go out and formulate “the big ideas”. “It really resonated with me,” Carrere said, “it made me pause.” Carrere also liked that the big ideas were coming from such a diverse group of students. “I think that where two concepts clash is where the innovation happens,” Carrere said, “so I think it’s great having that diversity.”
During the minor, Carrere said he learned the value of writing a business plan- two words that make most student entrepreneurs cringe. “The business plan, you can throw it in the trash can once you’re done, because it’s going to change,” Carrere said, “but writing it is extremely valuable.”
Carrere’s advice to current entrepreneurship students? “The E-minor will have the most applicability to your life… so pay attention.”