High School and The Value of Massive Black Holes
Sharon Winter’s high school experience was a little different than most. She attended Milken Community High School in Los Angeles and while there got involved with the Art and Science departments. She did a threeyear independent study class and conducted her own research and data excavation on Quasars, otherwise known as massive black holes. Beyond her self guided science research, she also took AP Physics and AP art courses, Architecture (model making and design), and participated in several science and engineering competitions including the American Society of Civil Engineers Popsicle stick bridge building competition.
“I needed more out of my education in high school, which is why I decided to think bigger and conduct my own research. That experience taught me how to think for myself, come up with an idea and follow through. It’s no surprise that I picked Quasars to do my research on. Black holes represent endless opportunity to me. You can continue to search and search and they just keep on going. It is very representative of how I look at things. Many see a black hole as a dead end, I see them as a means to look for more.”
Seeing The Hotspots From Afar
After high school Sharon packed herself up and moved to Pittsburgh, PA to attend Carnegie Mellon University. She studied Industrial Design, Robotics, and Human Computer Interaction,graduating in 2014.
Living far away from home was hard at times. All of her friends in LA were attending the cool parties, going to bar openings, heading to the desert for Coachella but she felt like she was missing out. They were keeping her in the loop via social networking and text messaging so that when she was back for the holidays, she’d know the best hot spots to hit. This got her thinking about an idea for a business that married both form and function in a unique way.
Her company, Hotpoint is the hottest new app providing live video feeds from the trendiest events in every city. The application and accompanying Video Booth let’s outside revelers peek inside any venue to see what’s happening. With Hotpoint, people in the clubs create quick and fun videos to share with friends and users across the Hotpoint network.
Bizarre Experiences and Thinking Differently
Unlike most students attending Draper University, Sharon not only came to the table with an idea, but she had a working product that was being used by some of the hottest spots in LA. She and her partners decided that heading to Draper to learn about the world of starting up would be a great way to catapult and grow their business.
The goal was for her to experience Silicon Valley, network with the most brilliant people in the industry, and craft some exciting new marketing ideas.
“I made SO many amazing friends, contacts, and professional connections while I was at Draper University. It’s hard for me to find people who are like minded and as fast paced as I am... and Draper U sure knows how to pull these people in. It made me feel comfortable and really pushed me to be around such like minded, driven and motivated people.”
Hotpoint now has a full iOS app running where people can find realtime feeds coming in from the Hotpoint Video Booths that live in the most exclusive venues in LA. They now have interest in venues from Las Vegas and Miami that want in on the Hotpoint action. Sharon and her team are looking forward to partnering with more nightlife groups, the release of an Android app and a new iOS version, expansion into more cities, development of strategic partnerships and raising money with partners and celebrity investors.
So what are Sharon’s thoughts about her time at Draper?
“The connections, relationships, advice, and support you get is unmatched by any other experience you’ll ever get. Being in an institution that is SO open minded, and a little bizarre, is enough to get you thinking differently, grow and harden your heart as an entrepreneur, and get you prepared for literally anything and everything that will come your way. The Draper team really does know startups and what it takes to be a success.”