Young entrepreneurs turn $40 investment into business success

Written by ANDREW POTTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

MARSHALLTOWN, IA. — They each chipped in $20, and their new business was formed.

Now, several months later, Tyler Richard (sophomore in computer engineering at Iowa State University) and Josh Weuve have had more than $100,000 in sales for their Marshalltown-based company, Cryogen Computer Design, which sets up virtual reality systems for school districts.

Even more surprising might be that Richard, of Ferguson, is a 21-year-old Iowa State University student and Weuve is an 18-year-old senior at East Marshall High School.

“We want to put brand-new technology in the hands of the students because they know what to do with it,” Richard said. “It’s a blast.”

The two order parts, set up the systems and do troubleshooting for schools. Students use virtual reality to learn to do 3-D design and other work using a program called Blender.

Many of Richard and Weuve’s customers are surprised when the pair show up to do the work.

“They usually think we just graduated college,” Weuve said.

The company started when Weuve and Richard recognized a need in the market. Since both had the expertise, they decided in June to dive right in and open a bank account with $20 from each of them. They cast aside the notion that they were too young to form a company.

During the company’s first few months this summer, the duo operated out of the basement of the Weuve home in Marshalltown.

After they realized they needed a place to handle their shipments, they rented a warehouse on Main Street with the direction of Tom Deimerly, president of the Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee.

“He was a big help in telling us the resources that we need,” Richard said.

Deimerly said the sky is the limit for this new venture.

“I think it’s really exciting to see a couple of young entrepreneurs with a high level of expertise start up a business here,” Deimerly said.

Both Weuve and Richard have honed their skills in the field after being heavily involved in the virtual reality program at East Marshall, which was among the first schools in the state to tap into that type of learning.

“That kind of started everything,” Weuve said. “We wouldn’t be sitting where we are today without it.”

Richard also had an internship at Mechdyne, a Marshalltown company involved in virtual reality systems.

Cryogen has now assisted more than 30 schools, and Richard and Weuve want to continue to grow the company. They tend not to look back at what they’ve accomplished at such a young age.

“We try not to look back because it’s dangerous,” Richard said. “It’s always good to look forward.”