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ComeFail encourages student start-ups

By Julia Novak
On April 10, 2014

  • A ComeFail idea board allows students to propose start-up suggestions. ComeFail was founded by sophomore Ethan Levy. Photo by Meg Harlan

Sophomore Ethan Levy came to Tulane with an idea for a business, but quickly discovered how difficult it was to implement. He wondered why there wasn't a platform that could connect him with other students who would want to help. As a result, he created ComeFail, an online platform which encourages students to engage in entrepreneurship.

"ComeFail encourages students to share their ideas with the willingness to receive constructive criticism," Levy said. "We want to become an online incubator for budding entrepreneurs."

ComeFail emerged at the New Orleans 3 Day Startup, an annual event that allows students to start a technology company in just three days. ComeFail recognizes that students are hesitant to pursue their ideas because they fear failing.

"Everything else in our society tells us to come succeed, but we're not told to fail enough," Levy said. "And failure is the means to success."

ComeFail hosted a competition for $500 in which students posted an idea on ComeFail's Facebook page and critiqued two other ideas in order to win. Trash to Treasure, an organization encouraging students to donate unwanted school supplies to be resold in the fall, won the competition.

ComeFail's second idea competition offered a $1,000 prize to the idea that received the most Facebook "likes." Roots of Renewal, a project focused on teaching skills to juvenile offenders to reorient them into the community, received1,092 likes and won the competition.

Levy said he hopes his idea can help people change their perception and fear of being unsuccessful.

"Because people perceive failure in a [negative] way, it creates high barriers of entry to jobs," Levy said. "Entrepreneurs are perceived as risk takers and people who are abnormal. We want to make it the new normal."

Levy wants ComeFail to eventually spread to as many universities as possible across the country. He said he hopes that it will leave the university system as well.

"I'd like have it so a 7-year-old could go onto our platform and start a business," Levy said. "We'd like to make age irrelevant, make it all about learning, experimenting and getting your hands dirty."

ComeFail has recently applied for the NewDay Challenge, an award of up to $20,000 given to students dedicated to solving social challenges. Levy said they will know by April 11 if the university will financially support ComeFail.

"They have already supported us some," Levy said. "We've received about $3,000, but we need a lot more." 

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