Student Spotlight | From MSAI Student to CTO of Innovative Start-up

Students of the MS in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) program have an entrepreneurial spirit. While it is great to take the deep breadth of skills learned in the MSAI program and implement them in large-sized, popular companies, the Whole-Brain Engineering philosophy that follows students of Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering helps them to move beyond a career of just being told what to do. Combining left-brain thinking designed to analyze and synthesize math and data, right-brain thinking incorporates a cognitive focus that allows for creativity and problem solving. Jack Richard, current MSAI student, is doing just that as he works diligently to thoughtfully fine-tune the success of his start-up, LineLeap.

In an interview with Jack, he talks about his vision and the future of his company.

The Mission of LineLeap

Jack Richard, MSAI Student and LineLeap CTO

Why does the company exist? What is its main value proposition?

LineLeap sets out to create a one-stop shop where customers can purchase all of their nightlife products in a single place. Currently, customers can purchase and redeem:  fast passes to skip lines, general admission tickets, VIP table/bottle service, and pre-ordered drink specials. Depending on the drink specials offered, LineLeap also serves as an alternative for brand advertisement.

Who is the company’s ideal customer, and how does the company currently approach them?

Presently, the ideal customer has been predominantly college students leveraging the application for quicker access into college-town establishments during big athletic events. With this being said, our ideal customer broadens around the holidays. LineLeap has developed a network of representatives on university campuses across the country that continue to develop relationships with the student body as well as the local nightlife. 

How did the company get to where it is today?

LineLeap began at the University of Michigan as a solution to overcoming the long admission lines to one of the popular venues, Rick’s American Cafe. By paying in advance, students were able to skip the lines and gain admission immediately. From this, LineLeap has acquired almost 25,000 customers at 40 venues in 15 different states.

Can you tell us more about the founding of the company, and what the problem is that you were addressing?

We set out to address the problem of overwhelmingly long lines into venues during holidays, bowl games, and any large athletic events on campuses. From this, LineLeap expanded to providing drink specials where customers can preorder select drinks and receive them upon entry, cover to get into a favorite venue when a waiting line is present, and many more use cases.           

The Vision of LineLeap

Where do you want the company to be in three years?

With three of the four founders—including myself—going full-time with LineLeap in 2019, our goal is to expand immensely beyond our current reach. Our success heavily depends on our venue count, so venue partnerships are a big focus going into 2020-21. In three years, our goal is to have relationships in many if not all of the large cities and universities throughout the United States.

What drives you to have this vision? Why are you passionate about this?

It is one thing to talk about building a start-up with your friends, but an entirely different sensation to follow through and see it get its footing. The passion I have for LineLeap comes from the thrill of watching an idea or project materialize after putting in countless hours during my free time. All of this while maintaining my coursework at Northwestern as a student of the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program.

Strategic Planning and Action

What are the company’s main objectives in the next year?

Our biggest focus will be on developing venue partnerships and establishing connections with representatives over the next year. Success will stem from building a larger network of venues across the country. From this, we will be able to acquire more partnerships with popular brands to offer the best specials for our partners’ customer base.

What are the greatest obstacles for the company next year? How are you planning to overcome them?

Our biggest obstacle emerges during the summer months when students are not on campus. Aside from holidays or big professional sporting events, our revenue depends heavily on university nightlife. To overcome this, we plan to focus our attention on broadening our partner base to include venues in cities that do not have universities in their local area. When the fall season returns and students are on campus, our focus will shift back to our core audience and university relationships and the cycle will continue.

You can find the LineLeap app in the application store on your mobile device.

Congratulations to Jack and fellow co-founders on the success of LineLeap!