A rower since 7th grade, Daniel Shrives ’20 had a hunch that he could make a rowing telemetry system to track data on rowers’ movements less expensive than the $1,000 devices on the market. With teammate Grayson Baum '20, Shrives's still-in-development device won WPI’s 2017 Strage Innovation Award. Shrives is driven to see if he can make a product better or cheaper, especially when it seems unlikely. Whether his product makes it to market it or not isn’t his top priority. He just wants to see if he can accomplish what no one else has.
How do you define entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is based on a hunch. An entrepreneur bets both their own and others’ time and money on an inkling. In most cases this forecast is seen as unachievable, and it's the entrepreneur's goal to prove critics wrong.
As an entrepreneur, when do you feel successful?
Entrepreneurship is a strenuous endeavor, analogous to climbing a mountain. For most of the journey, you are surrounded by trees with no end in sight. When you finally break the tree line, the view of the summit allows the mind to imagine the finish creating immense motivation, but only now can you see what is to come. If you define success as reaching the top, you will struggle to get there. You must set realistic goals and strive to fulfill them, and in that find happiness. Only then will you find true success.
My project started with the question, “Is it possible to make a device at a tenth of its current cost?” I will not know the answer to this question until my device is for sale. With such a project it is hard to find success or happiness because the outcome is both far and unknown. But every working prototype brings me closer to my goal and firms my belief that it is even possible. Every prototype gives me more of a rush than any good grade I have ever received. I took a gamble, and I am slowly figuring out whether I was right or wrong.
How would you describe your approach to your work?
I approach my work by embracing failure. Mistakes early and often save time and money in the long run. Every mistake makes me push harder because I know I am one step closer to the finish line.
Why is Worcester a good place for start-ups?
Worcester has many advantages for tech startups. There is wonderful support from the WPI community as well as the other local colleges and universities. Worcester is very close to the Route 495 tech corridor and the tech hub of Boston and its suburbs.
How is your WPI education valuable to you as an innovator and entrepreneur?
WPI has been an amazing place to innovate and work on ideas that I am very passionate about. I have found that the teaching style at WPI allows me to apply the concepts directly to my own projects. Along with a great education, WPI has provided me with invaluable resources that have made it possible to get where I am today. From my first few weeks at WPI, professors and entrepreneurship staff took me seriously and provided wonderful insight and opportunities.