The name isn’t the only thing that has changed for Michael Fearer’s business following the completion of the 10-week Lumos Accelerator. What was once InternWire is now TalFuse, and while both deal in internships, the concept has changed.
Before starting the Lumos Accelerator, InternWire had built a team of eight and launched its minimum viable product.
“The whole driving mission of our product was to help students find better internships, so essentially to take out the guessing game of an internship,” Fearer says.
A student only gets a limited number of internships and InternWire wanted to help individuals make the most of each opportunity.
“We were bringing all these things together, but we needed that final push to really make it a reality,” Fearer says of their reason for seeking an accelerator program. “I think some people come in with ideas and I think it’s hard for that to take off because you haven’t really done much with it yet, but we had pieces moving together, falling in place, and so we were really just looking for the accelerator to boost us along in the right direction.”
That push ultimately ended up being in a different direction. Fearer says the first workshop featuring insights from Dr. Michael Camp of OSU pushed them to develop a deeper understanding of their customers. More in-depth discussions with their customers – students – led to some revealing insights.
“We found that our idea was valid, but it was only for a very small group of students – the students who are able to turn down an internship because they have more than one offer,” Fearer says.
At that it was goodbye InternWire and hello to TalFuse.
As TalFuse, “Right now we are simply connecting students and getting them either work, part-time work or internships with startups and other high-growth companies,” Fearer says. “There’s not a startup I don’t talk to that is like, ‘Eh, no, we don’t need that.'”
As InternWire, Fearer was primarily working with large, Fortune 500 companies. As TalFuse, it’s smaller companies and startups – which are easily accessible through Lumos’ network.
With its new iteration, TalFuse is focusing on engaging students for signups and startups to partner with. After just over a month of the new model, TalFuse placed its first student and has amassed partial profiles for about 1,000 potential workers. They’ve also gathered about a dozen startups to connect with talent.
The accelerator definitely came with its lessons for Fearer and his now smaller team. The TalFuse team consists of three members and Fearer says a smaller group is keeping things more efficient and communication tighter.
Another big revelation was understanding what’s really a problem.
“Interview people and understand your customer and your supplier,” Fearer recommends. “Really focus on your solutions, but knowing the problem as well, because I’ve created solutions before for no problem, so understand the core problem then tailor your solution to that.”
For more information on TalFuse, visit talfuse.com.