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Scheller College's Emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Technology is a Good Fit for Marc Frankel

"I was going into my junior year of high school, and I'd just started driving," recalled first-year Georgia Tech business administration major Marc Frankel. "Every day when I got to school my mom made me text her: 'Hey, I'm here. I made it safely.'"

But he would forget to check-in some mornings, and his vigilant mother would text him to make sure he was safe and sound.

"I realized there must be a better way," said Frankel, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland.

It just so happened that his high school was conducting a business plan competition, so the entrepreneurial minded Frankel and two friends decided to enter the technology category, called the Tech Cup.

They started brainstorming, and came up with the idea of Vamonos! — Spanish for "Let's go!"

"It's a free smartphone app that allows you to automatically send a text message or email based on your location, typically sent when you arrive or leave somewhere, so your contact knows where you are," he explained.

The app can also notify a contact of your impending arrival or departure, according to Frankel. "For example, if you're going to pick up your friend, three minutes before you get there it could automatically text, 'Hey, I'll be there in three,' so your friend can be waiting at the door ready to go when you pull up."

Buoyed by Vamonos!'s top showing in the Tech Cup, the students entered the app in similar competitions around the Cleveland area. By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, they had amassed $15,000 in prize money.

Frankel and his partners rented office space in a Cleveland suburb and spent the summer refining Vamonos!, adding a feature called Late Alerts, which automatically sends a message to a pre-selected contact if the user stays in a location past a certain time or if the user does not reach a location by a certain time. In addition, users can set routines so the app will send their contacts the same message every day at a selected time.

Rather than rely on battery-draining GPS tracking, Vamonos! uses cell tower triangulation to detect the user's location, he noted. "This way, users can have the app running in the background of their phones and still automatically send location-based messages."

Frankel and his partners formed an LLC and in January 2017 formally launched Vamonos! through the iOS app store and their website, https://vamonosapp.io.

When it came to picking a university, Frankel was interested in an environment where he could advance his technology-focused entrepreneurial ambitions. On the advice of his college counselor, "I visited Georgia Tech and got a tour of both the main campus and Scheller," he said. "Not only is it a very pretty campus, but I found that Tech and Scheller exactly fit my vibe of business and technology.

"I liked the fact that students in all majors are required to take a computer science class," he pointed out. "Plus, all the startups in the area signaled to me that Scheller and Atlanta are serious places for entrepreneurship."

A year in, he’s been pleased with his Scheller experience. "Scheller’s a very close-knit community that takes care of its students, and I like that," he said. "The professors are kind and personable, and there are a lot of cool learning opportunities like the technology and management program."

The Steven A. Denning Technology & Management Program is a two-year course of study where students work together in interdisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems sponsored by the program's corporate affiliates.

"I like the students here, too — they're very interesting people," he continued. "During middle school and high school, I didn't really have anyone I could talk to as a resource in terms of, 'Hey I can't get this programming thing to work, can you help me?' Here I have peers, again incredibly smart peers, who are willing and able to help me out. That's pretty nice."

Even before Vamonos!, Frankel demonstrated a proclivity for technology and business.

In the seventh grade, he and a friend decided to build a social media website. It wasn't a new idea — Facebook and similar sites had been around a little while — but the task offered a compelling technical challenge for the novices. Frankel built the site piece by piece, learning the basic elements by googling them one by one, like how to write a login, how to upload a new profile picture and so forth, and then fitting them together.

"It took about three or four months, but I managed to code a social media website with all your major features," he said. "We managed to get our entire grade on it for about a weekend. Everyone signed up, but then everyone disappeared.

"That whole process taught me how to program, which definitely gave me a leg up compared to others my age, who typically don't learn programming skills until college."

He put his programming expertise to work, and in high school started a few small businesses and created video games for friends.

"Developing video games would be a dream career because you get to play around all day while also making money,” he laughed, "but the field is pretty crowded, so I started thinking about more serious things like building smartphone apps."

After he graduates from Tech in 2020, Frankel may pursue career prospects in Silicon Valley.

"I've always had the typical dream of working out there," he said, "but I realize there's a lot of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship support in Atlanta as well, so I could end up staying here. I have three years to decide."

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Susan Ambrosetti
Director of Marketing & Communications