OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | TeamWise: Atmo
20198
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TeamWise: Atmo

Atmo is helping you find the right atmosphere for the occasion. At OwlSpark, they have been developing an app that streamlines the restaurant decision making process by creating a directory of venues that can be filtered based on atmosphere, occasion, and most importantly, vibes.

After extensive market research, Atmo co-founders Sebastian Pilarski and Jeffrey Wang, found that one of restaurant-goers biggest pain points was the lack of ability to select a location online based on the atmosphere. Restaurant-goers can search for type of food, price and rating, but the only way to gauge a venue’s atmosphere is to sort through the vast array of photos and reviews uploaded by previous patrons. Inaccurate and time-consuming, Sebastian and Jeffrey knew there must be a way to make this process more efficient. Thus, Atmo was born.

Hailing from the Great White North, the co-founders met during their freshman year at McGill University in Montreal. It was only fitting that their passion for food would bring the two together, crossing paths during McGill’s World Record Setting Brownie event. After a passionate conversation about batteries, technology and other nerdy things, Sebastian and Jeffrey immediately hit it off. From then on, the two met daily for lunch in the dining hall to brainstorm ideas for startups and other get-rich-quick schemes. Poetically, the idea they are bringing to fruition is based on their favorite activity—people gathering around food.

Sebastian and Jeffrey both had different paths to discovering their interest in entrepreneurship. Sebastian, who’s father was an entrepreneur, learned from an early age that being your own boss allows for the freedom and flexibility to innovate. Jeffrey’s journey differed slightly. Growing up in Vancouver, and later moving to Taiwan, he developed a worldly perspective early on. Jeffrey then learned about microfinance through kiva.org and started an organization at his high school in Taiwan to raise money for third-world entrepreneurs in the form of zero-interest loans. Naturally, this helped Jeffrey discover the power of entrepreneurship and he was inspired him to try it on.

After transferring to Rice University before the start of his sophomore year, Jeffrey learned about OwlSpark and shared his excitement with Sebastian. Even though they were thousands of miles away from each other, the two began collaborating on ideas and applied to OwlSpark in late 2015. Dressed to nines, they applied to the program with Sebastian skyping in to the interview. Bringing energy, vigor, and an impeccable fashion sense to the table, we were quite impressed with the pair.

Throughout the summer, Atmo has pivoted quite a few times, working hard to find the true pain points in the foodservice industry. However, after many customer interviews, Sebastian and Jeffrey landed on an idea that serves a need not served by the current food app market. Between the social, co-working environment and our meticulously critical mentors, every idea Atmo proposed was vetted and groomed for any and all shortcomings by mentors and founders alike. In fact, getting all of their ideas torn apart may have been Atmo’s favorite part of the program.

We love feeling like we have to prove ourselves.

Outside of the program, the founders of Atmo are your typical college students. They love going out to eat, playing ping pong and, when they’re in Canada, going out to bars. The drinking age here has stifled their nightly escapades, but hasn’t diminished their spirits even if they are still salty about it.

It’s terrible in this country. You need to get some real legislation passed.

Despite their shenanigans, Sebastian is a talented martial artist who trained with the Canadian Olympic Judo Team before heading south for OwlSpark. However, he will be the first to tell you he wasn’t even close to making the team. Jeffrey is quite the athlete as well, playing tennis on the weekends and in his spare time. Word on the street is that he has a pretty mean forehand. With this in mind, if you have any customer service issues we might recommend taking them up with Jeffrey.

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