Ryan Connolly spent two years helping entrepreneurs start companies and researchers commercialize their innovations. So it’s no surprise that he hasn’t waited for graduation before launching his own startup.
Together with two computer science students and another from business, Connolly is developing PlayPulse, which takes a scientific approach to video-game testing by using a comprehensive suite of biometric sensors to measure where, when and how a user is most engaged in a video game. Connolly and partners Andy Miller, Zack Anderson and Hannah Vincent won seed funding from a College of Engineering/College of Business grant and are pitching the business to potential investors. PlayPulse is also a candidate for the OSU Venture Accelerator, part of an initiative to launch companies and commercialize research innovations developed at Oregon State.
Should PlayPulse be selected, it will be familiar territory for Connolly, who earned a double degree in marketing and business administration with an entrepreneurship concentration. As an intern for the OSU Venture Accelerator program since 2011, it was his job to see if university research discoveries could be commercialized, conducting market research, identifying potential licensees and developing business plans for startup companies.
Connolly said the real-world business experience and mentoring from John Turner in the College of Business and Dan Whitaker in the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development have helped him sharpen his research and critical thinking skills.
“The mentors are critical to improving both the business plans and your own abilities,” Connolly said. “On almost every project, there’s something you miss or something you need to look at further. They’ll help you along the way, but they also expect a lot and push you.”
Over the course of his internship, Connolly learned what questions to ask scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs, what it takes to launch a successful business and what challenges have to be overcome, especially financial ones.
“People are investing real money based on what you’re saying,” Connolly said. “You’re working with real companies who need the information and analysis you’re providing.”
Now, the real company Connolly will be working with is his own.