An internship at Lighthouse Labs, a startup accelerator program in Richmond, Va., served as the catalyst for Luis Davila, ’16, to discover his enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and led him to his current success.
Davila earned his B.S. in finance and accounting, but a course with Eric Martin, director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at the Robins School of Business, changed his post-graduation plans. “My curiosity began to wander and Professor Martin helped me discover options I could explore in the innovation and entrepreneurship fields. I soon realized if I was going to work so hard and so long, I wanted it to be for myself,” Davila said.
A few months before his senior year, Davila joined the co-founders of Lighthouse Labs as an intern where he setup events, tracked data and served in a generalist role for the organization. Quickly proving his capabilities, he transitioned into a management role overseeing six interns. “Lighthouse Labs is a nationally-recognized startup accelerator that hosts selective programs designed to help startups validate a business idea, receive mentorship and capital, and springboard them to success,” Davila shared.
In the spring, Davila began working closely with Joe Belsterling, founder of MajorClarity, a company in the Lighthouse Labs program. Davila credits Belsterling helping him get where he is today by serving as a mentor and confidant who introduced him to Matthew Sniff, founder of Map My Customers, a customer mapping and CRM app.
Sniff and Davila were a fast match, with one complimenting the other’s expertise in software and business development, and the two joined forces in the spring, with Davila working part-time while he finished his degree. “Map My Customers allows the traditional outbound sales person, who drives from client to client, map customer spreadsheets, optimize driving routes, and organize leads,” Davila explained of the app. “In class I read and learned about startups, but it’s very different being involved with one. It’s overwhelming and scary, and took me longer than I expected to get used to the tremendous feeling of responsibility of growing a company I feel so strongly about,” Davila said. “It can be very intimidating, but I quickly became adjusted to the day-to-day operations and more confident in my abilities to execute what is expected of me.”
Map My Customers is continually evolving, adding 30 to 40 new organic users a day. Based on customer demand, they are developing several new features including a business card scanner and others to make field sales simpler and more intuitive. “We want to hone in on specific strategies, growing exponentially while still maintaining focus and not straying from company values,” Davila said. “I realized after jumping into the startup world that a traditional corporate career isn’t for me. I need to buy into the mission and vision of the company where I am working and call it mine to a certain degree.”
Map My Customers was recently accepted into Lighthouse Labs’ Accelerator Lab, bringing Davila’s entrepreneurship experience full circle. The three-month program will enable Davila and Sniff to participate in guided workshops, and receive network development, coworking space, and valuable visibility, among other resources, putting them well on their way to further success. At the conclusion of the program, the two plan to narrow the strategy and vision of Map My Customers and hone in on the direction the company will take.
“We will definitely look into other startup accelerators and apply to those we think are a good fit,” Davila said. “It is great being in Richmond. I call it home, but wherever the company goes, I will follow.”
To learn more about Map My Customers visit the company’s website.