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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Tulane: Student Rolls with High-pressure Competition on Startup Bus

Ms. Helen Waller was a teacher in Myanmar before she began master’s studies at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She watched with interest as her friends and students forged a new path for technology in that country. This summer, she earned firsthand tech experience on the Startup Bus, an initiative that brings together potential entrepreneurs.

On a bus from Washington, DC, to New Orleans the participants — strangers from random backgrounds — formed teams, developed concepts, and created original software over three days while the bus is rolled between cities.

Now her team’s project, Office PE (physical education), which matches trainers with employee wellness programs for exercise sessions in the office environment, is officially a startup.

“That was something I went in for, definitely,” she said. “And I think I did realize how constructive that can be on a personal level and then also on a structural level, like when you’re trying to put a business together. It’s important to be that vulnerable, to keep seeking new information as much as possible.”

When the bus finally rolled into New Orleans, Ms. Waller and her team had working software and a viable business plan. Office PE did not win the final competition, but the project is a reality, and Ms. Waller’s three teammates are still business partners.

Though she’ll soon be starting a position in water governance and disaster mitigation in Louisiana, Ms. Waller hopes to pull together a group of intrepid New Orleanians for next year’s Startup Bus.

“It takes all kinds of small challenges and changes to come up with the best solutions.”

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