We value curious minds. We love learning from people who are doing cool things out in the world, so we’ve made it a regular pursuit. The Entrepreneur Series is a GoKart Labs-hosted guest speaker event focused on startups and the individuals who built them. We invite a business founder to share their startup story, and some of the challenges and lessons they have encountered along the way.
Name: Ocean Salazar
Startups: Versital (2017), Studioso (2017)
Title: Student, CEO, Founder, Co-Founder
Ocean Salazar is senior in high school from Edina, Minnesota with a passion for investing, finance, and entrepreneurship. He has created two businesses. One, Versital, was created for the MN Cup competition. The second, Studioso, aims to redesign the music education system and is currently in beta testing.
Most high schools don’t offer classes in running a business, but Ocean Salazar had no problem learning on his own. Before the age of 18, Salazar had turned two unique ideas into viable businesses.
His first business was called “Versital”. Salazar, a friend, and his brother created Versital to enter into the MN Cup, the largest statewide startup competition in the country. The idea behind Versital was to create phone cases with interchangeable utility and fashion attachments. While the team never made it to the manufacturing stage, it landed them in the semi-finals of the youth division.
Salazar quickly caught the entrepreneur bug after the MN Cup competition. His next company came from his hobby of playing the violin. Students only spend about 10% of their time playing and practicing their instrument with a teacher, leaving little or no support for the musician the rest of the time. This universal issue inspired Salazar to start Studioso, a mobile app designed to connect music teachers and students. Overall, the app facilitates music education by allowing teachers to share assignments, structure student practice, and track progress in real time.
Studioso is in beta with 150 preorders and 5 core testing partners. He is currently focused on building the right team to implement all the new feedback they are gathering. He is looking for more developers and creating a timeline to target school districts during peak budgeting time.
His success is impressive, but for a high school student, it is unheard of. He has had to manage school and Studioso full time, “I’ve had about 30 to 40 absences” jokes Salazar. He even dropped out of his computer science class because he felt that he was learning enough about computers while developing Studioso, leaving him with a very non-traditional high school experience.
Beyond using his entrepreneurial mindset to drive Studioso further, he also earned himself a spot at the University of Southern California in the fall. While in California, Salazar plans on looking for investors for Studioso and creating other business connections while attending school.
Currently in Beta testing, Salazar hopes that the app will be ready to launch to school districts soon. As for his future, Salazar plans on bringing Studioso to its full potential then building a career in fintech and corporate finance.
Add value to the world. One of the things that drives Salazar is his pursuit of adding value to the world. He wants to create things that help people and contribute to the greater good. He believes it is important to create companies that solve problems rather than just making money.
Find a problem. The best ideas solve direct problems. Instead of thinking of business ideas, think of problems that need to be solved, and go from there. Salazar learned this first hand when developing Versital for a competition, verse Studioso to help further music education.
A team needs a vast roster. Having people with a variety of skill sets beyond their focus area will prove beneficial. This not only allows you to solve more problems internally, but will allow you to approach your company’s problems with multiple perspectives.
You can start a business. The thought of starting a business is daunting. Ocean Salazar did it without a college or high school degree and little work experience. With passion, work ethic, determination, and a strong problem to solve, anyone can become a business owner.