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Alumni/ae Notes

* Summer 2010
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Features

On the Bookshelf

50 Year Club Notes

In Brief

In Memoriam

Back Issues

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Young Entrepreneurs Launch “Hip” Company, Again
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* From Fries to Fuel: Invention Converts Used Cooking Oil to Energy
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Serial start-up entrepreneurs Pete Curley ’06, Garret Heaton ’07, and Chris Rivers ’05 are at it again: In January the creators of HipCal launched HipChat, an instant message service for companies that facilitates internal communication with chat rooms and file sharing features.

More than 1,000 organizations signed on to use HipChat in its first four months. Project teams can collaborate in real time, instead of scheduling meetings or following up via e-mail.

“It is a big change away from e-mail and meetings,” says Curley, as well as a more
productive and fun way to work. And while the initial interest in the service came from young start-up companies whose employees are used to online social networking, more traditional organizations have started using it, too.

In fact, after working out of a dining room for the start-up phase, the founders began to realize enough profit this spring to set up an office.

Rivers, Heaton, and Curley (shown, left to right), whose degrees are in computer science, IT, and EMAC, respectively, tasted their first start-up success even before leaving Rensselaer. With two other Alpha Chi Rho fraternity brothers, they created the online calendar service HipCal, which started as a to-do list application for class. In 2006 Plaxo acquired HipCal and its team, who then created the social networking service Plaxo Pulse. Plaxo was bought by Comcast and the team left to start HipChat.

It’s clear that these young entrepreneurs thrive on the search for the next new product. “When Plaxo got bought by Comcast, the size of that workplace was just not my style,” says Curley. “Most of the value that we create is in the original idea and start-up.”
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