COVER STORY

There's an app for that

Meet The Makers: Neal Ormsbee


Published: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 3:48 p.m.

Straying from your life plan can sometimes lead to interesting and unexpected developments.

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Neal Ormsbee, co-founder of Feathr, at the company office at the University of Florida's Innovation Hub.

Doug Finger

Neal Ormsbee, a lanky 23-year-old from Orlando, never expected to be running his own company at this stage. His plan was to go to college, study hard and become a scientist or engineer for a major company.

But as the side project he and his college roommate, Aidan Augustin, began in their dorm room three years ago grew more promising, school took a backseat.

“We straddled those two worlds for awhile,” Ormsbee says. “We were both part-time students, taking one class a semester.”

During those three short years, Ormsbee and Augustin quickly went from fellow undergraduates at the University of Florida to co-founders of a fast-growing startup called Feathr, making and marketing an app for conference attendees and event planners.

The company they founded around a ping-pong table two years ago has raised $200,000 in capital, secured a $117,000 state job creation grant and broke even for the first time since they filed articles of incorporation.

“September was our first month we did more in closed sales than we paid in rent after two years of product market testing,” Ormsbee says with a grin. “We actually made money!” To him, the victory is a moral one, “underscored by the fact that we're not paying anybody what they're worth.” Still, it marks a lifestyle upgrade of sorts — from cellophane packets of Ramen noodles to glorified Yakisoba bowls.

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