Senior Spotlight: Ben Mesnik '20
Ben won it all in our Thalheimer Grand Prize Pitch Competition earlier this month with his AI in-game coaching, Tip Genius. Ben first competed in September's EUREKA! Pitch Night and progressed throughout the year to become a finalist who pitched for the Grand Prize. Let's find out what he'll be doing when he graduates in May!
Major | Computer Science
Minor | Entrepreneurship
Hometown | Needham, MA
What has been your best entrepreneurial experience at Lehigh?
Taking ENTP 311 & 312 has been great. You really get pushed out of your comfort zone. It's also been helpful and motivating to follow other students' pursuits as they progress.
What has been an entrepreneurial challenge that you've faced? How did you overcome it?
Before I started Tip Genius, I had another project - SkillLister.com. I spent over a year developing the application from scratch and when it was finally ready to be released, I shut it down. Although I had invested so much time and energy into the project already, I realized that I didn't have enough passion around the problem to continue. I went back to the drawing board and a month later I began writing the first lines of code for Tip Genius.
What would you say to an incoming student about getting involved with entrepreneurship at Lehigh?
Come up with an idea related to something you enjoy and just start building it out. What's the worst that could happen? Definitely look into the EUREKA! pitch competitions.
What is Tip Genius? How did it start and what are your next steps with it, now that you have won $5,000?
Tip Genius provides artificially intelligent in-game coaching to video game players. The application tracks the players' current in-game scenario and, either during downtime or on the users' command, queries our database of 1000+ scenario-tip relations in search of relevant tips. If a match is found, it's presented atop the users' game via an unintrusive overlay.
I came up with this idea when brainstorming what I would pitch on the first day of entrepreneurship class. I was fresh off developing SkillLister.com and knew I wanted my next project to focus on something I really enjoyed, this fit the bill. I started testing out if it was possible, making a program that could read screen pixels, print an overlay to the screen, show a GIF on the overlay, etc... Now, a year and a half later, I have beta users testing out the service and I'm putting the finishing touches on the app with plans to fully release it next month.
What are your plans after graduation?
I currently have a job lined up as a software engineer at Constant Contact. I have a little over two months until my start date, which should be enough time to get this out there. It'll definitely be interesting to see what happens in that time.