A local technology innovation publication named business sophomore Nia Daughtry one of Austin’s 25 Under 25, a list recognizing young entrepreneurs throughout the city.
The publication, Austin Inno, commended Daughtry last Tuesday for her startup Loop, a website where college students can freelance photography, videography, editing and graphic design skills to local businesses. Daughtry said she hopes her product can give students a way to make money while developing experience in their interests.
“At an internship, you may be stuck with something you don’t like for an extended period of time,” Daughtry said. “With Loop, it’s like speed interning. You can get a nice taste of what’s out there and figure out what you want by the time you graduate.”
After a discouraging experience with another freelancing website, Daughtry wanted to create a platform where students can more easily offer their work.
“There’s GroupMe and Facebook where you can post something and hope someone responds,” Daughtry said. “I wanted to create a platform purposely for connecting students and businesses.”
Daughtry wants Loop to eventually become an easy-to-use app, such as Uber, that will take a student’s skills, availability and interests and match them with a customer looking for a compatible service.
Daughtry worked with mentors to develop her initial idea into a product to showcase in front of possible funders and co-founders.
One of the people who helped her was Brent Brightwell, CEO of a startup called kaZING. Brightwell took Daughtry under his wing after seeing her potential and drive at a convention this past April.
“She was extremely professional for someone so young,” Brightwell said. “I thought she was in her mid-twenties, she was out of school, and it was probably her second startup.”
The two now meet regularly to discuss strategies about market research, planning and pitching. Brightwell said while Daughtry has great instincts, he wants to show her the best ways to get Loop off the ground.
“She’s open to a lot, and that is going to help her,” Brightwell said. “She is going to draw in people that want to work with and for her.”
Daughtry said she constantly networks for any new mentors, clients or employees, all of whom can offer valuable feedback.
Daughtry’s mother, Shiela Daughtry, said her daughter’s determination will also help her attract the financial and technological help needed to develop Loop.
“‘No,’ for a lot of us, would be a closed door,” Shiela Daughtry said. “For her, ‘no’ is a challenge. ‘No’ means ‘let me find another way to get through to whatever person about my idea.’”
If Loop succeeds, Daughtry said she hopes to use her accomplishment to inspire other young adults to apply their creative minds.
“Every time I’ve been to a Beyoncé concert, I leave with a sense of confidence,” Daughtry said. “She does something to a crowd. She inspires people. I want to do that. I want to do that to everybody.”