Success Stories

Student entrepreneur recognized

Brian RIder

Brian Rider started his entrepreneur career at 18 years old when he launched his own data visualization company. Thanks to Grand Valley's entrepreneurship classes combined with Rider's determination, the company has earned national recognition.  

The company, Digital Wingman, provides colleges, universities, and off-campus housing companies with professional renderings of room and apartment layouts, animation services, and dynamic web applications. Recently Rider and Digital Wingman were selected as a winner for the StartupNation 2008 Dorm Based 20.  This is a list of America's most outstanding collegiate entrepreneurs and the businesses they run selected by Startup Nation.  The list appears on both startupnation.com and msn.com.

According to Rider, Startup Nation is the leading online content and community resource for entrepreneurs. To be selected by StartupNation a person must demonstrate the characteristic of an entrepreneur and have a passion for it.  Additionally those selected put a high priority on social responsibility. 

“Our company is focused on being the leader in a new and developing industry of data visualization,” he said “We keep our products and services simple, easy to use, and visually appealing.  We look at business as a way to serve others, a way to change and save lives, and inspire people to pursue their dreams.” 

Rider started Digital Wingman while he was living in the Hills Living Center his freshman year.  As a computer science major, he modeled the tables and chairs in his room, using the same modeling software that Pixar uses for its films, such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.  He taught himself how to use the program and eventually modeled all of the Hills Living Center. 

“I showed it to University Housing, and they're the ones who really took the idea and helped me get the company off the ground,” he said.   Rider now has modeled all of the housing for Grand Valley. 

While Grand Valley was the first client for the company, its clients now include Stanford, Brown, Berkeley, University of Georgia, North Carolina State and Michigan State.  In addition the company has started a foundation called Techtivity.org.  This foundation will provide technological resources for the youth of Grand Rapids so that they have access to creative software. 

Digital Wingman hopes to move to more markets in the near future.  Additionally they will help clients utilize information more effectively and help them make quality decisions.

by Leah Burns

This story was filed with the tags: Business, Entrepreneurship, Undergraduate Student