From ground zero to launch in a year
How often do we look outside the box to create truly innovative solutions to our own problems and what would happen if we did? That’s what UTS startup Espresso Displays is aiming to do in producing the “World's Thinnest USB Powered Displays”.
Photo by Lourdes Millare.
We all experience daily frustrations with our technology, our transport, and the things we own, and most of the time, we try to find something that already exists to fix it. This is what UTS Startups founders and UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT alumni, Scott McKeon and Will Scuderi tried to do when looking for a solution to portable displays.
Scott and Will were up late one night trying to finish a university assessment when they found themselves in need of an extra display screen. The pair took it upon themselves to research where to buy one but to their surprise, there was nothing that ticked all the boxes.
So, what do you do when you can’t find a solution? You make one. Less than a year later, their one-off solution to a small problem has become the foundation of their full-time business.
“Will went home and 3D-printed a rough prototype that same night and sent me a photo at about 2am the next morning and from then on, it was all we could talk about,” says Scott.
What Will printed that night back in 2018 was the first iteration of what would soon become Espresso Displays, a tech hardware company that produces the world’s thinnest USB powered portable monitors.
A journey with UTS Startups
For Scott and Will, joining the UTS Startups community was the turning point for their business that started out as a fun idea and turned into a viable and scalable business.
The pair became connected with their third co-founder, Matthew Childs, and the team headed to China to begin manufacturing their product.
“Meeting Matt was amazing because he had significant experience in running a business and supply chain manufacturing in China so he really coached us through that process,” said Scott.
Scott and Will were two of the first UTS alumni to join UTS Startups just over a year ago, and from the moment they began their journey, they felt part of a community.
“We were there at the first Learning Circle and I think initiatives like these show what the student-founder community is all about. It’s about sharing your wins, sharing your losses and asking for support,” said Scott.
From then to now
Scott reflects on how far the team has come since first starting out. He remembers feeling intimidated by the prospect of building an entire business from scratch with little or no experience.
“About this time a year ago we were googling how to buy a domain name, how to make a website. Really for Will and I, we were right at level zero, step zero,” he said.
“That’s one of the best things about a place like UTS Startups where you have such a community and access to support, networks and mentorship to help guide you,” he said.
Scott was witness to the growth of the UTS Startups community and says this has been beneficial in helping Espresso Displays to evolve.
“Now that UTS Startups has grown to one of the most significant co-working spaces and entrepreneurial hubs in Sydney, there’s a lot more startup maturity, there’s more diversity in the projects people are working on and there’s more people coming in to help because of that,” he said.
Learning as you go
Scott says the process of building a business with UTS Startups has shifted his entire perspective on his future.
“Throughout the work that I’ve done over the last year, I’ve realised it’s not about getting the right job or the right title and moving up the chain. It’s about developing my learning and being able to do more,” he said.
Scott is now encouraging other students to get involved in entrepreneurship and to pursue their curiosities.
“The barriers to entry have never been lower,” he said.
“If there’s one bit of advice I’d give myself back then, it’s to use your idea as a road map or a guide but don’t limit yourself to that. Continue to go out and explore everything that’s interesting to you, things you want to learn about or you’re curious about because now with the internet you can learn whatever you want,” said Scott.