Alumni join forces to launch design-focused software startup
KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 12, 2020) — Joey Ruse knows that the secret to a successful startup company involves generating a truly innovative idea and assembling a strong team of industry connections, the latter of which he said were forged during his time at Kennesaw State University.
Recently, he and fellow alumnus Eban Bisong launched Creative Critique, an online platform that harnesses a robust community of creative-minded people to provide actionable feedback on each other’s work. Though the company already has beta testers representing leading institutions such as the Savannah College of Art and Design, Virginia Tech and the University of Central Florida, Ruse and Bisong, both of whom graduated from KSU in 2018, didn’t know each other as recently as a year ago. Instead, the two met through a mutual connection in the Atlanta technology community.
Ruse, who earned a degree in entrepreneurship, said that he was inspired to build the platform for creatives after failing to find an existing program online. With prior experience in the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship Center, he turned to his deep network of former mentors seeking guidance on how to breathe life into his idea. Soon, he was connected to Bisong, an information technology graduate with extensive experience in software engineering.
“The relationships I was able to develop just by simply being a student at KSU have been crucial to my success as an entrepreneur, and I lean on those connections often when I need advice on running a business,” said Ruse, who launched six companies while a student at Kennesaw State.
Currently, Ruse is leading the business operations of Creative Critique, while Bisong heads up the software side as the chief technology officer. In all, five of the company’s six employees have earned degrees at Kennesaw State. After officially incorporating in June, the company is prepared to launch a beta test of the product this fall in hopes of helping design schools navigate through the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Faculty in KSU’s School of Art and Design will be among those testing the platform before it officially launches in the spring.
Bisong said launching a company has always been in his future. After working in different capacities at technology startups since graduating from the College of Computing and Software Engineering, he was able to learn the ins and outs of each company until he was comfortable branching out on his own.
“It has always been a goal of mine to build something of value,” he said. “KSU really helped expose me to emerging technologies as well as learn the business logistics behind running a company. I was fortunate to have been connected with Ruse at just the right time in my career.”
Prior to attending KSU, Ruse said he didn’t know what entrepreneurship was. It wasn’t until he became involved with the Shore Entrepreneurship Center that his eyes were opened.
“I always thought my career would involve working for someone and being told what to do, because that’s all I knew,” he said. “After my introduction to the Entrepreneurship Center, though, that first conversation, I really began to see what life could look like if you’re designing your own future, and I immediately fell in love with entrepreneurship. Now, I believe we are on the verge of creating something great.”
— Travis Highfield
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.