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Hel­loCampus is a video-chat platform created to connect col­leges to stu­dents. Reed Lawe | Courtesy

Last year’s lockdown pre­sented many stu­dents with a choice: binge watch Netflix, or use the extra time to further their careers. Senior Reed Lawe chose the latter. 

Lawe, who is fin­ishing up his under­graduate degree in financial man­agement, started a company called Hel­loCampus over quarantine.

Hel­loCampus is a software startup that allows col­leges to host prospective stu­dents vir­tually, using an interface that allows college tour guides and prospective stu­dents to effec­tively com­mu­nicate, ask ques­tions, and provide campus tours. 

“We’ve built a virtual tour video-chat platform which we license to college admis­sions depart­ments so that their tour guides can give virtual tours live to prospective stu­dents,” said Lawe. “What you get is essen­tially a zoom call overlaid with an inter­active map.” 

According to the busi­nesses website, Hel­loCampus allows tour guides and prospective stu­dents to form per­sonal con­nec­tions that used to be impos­sible because of the pandemic. 

“A campus tour should allow each student to really feel the campus, help them imagine them­selves living there, and give them the oppor­tunity to interact with current stu­dents during their visit,” says the website

Prior to Lawe’s work on Hel­loCampus there were no similar options for col­leges looking at improving their admis­sions in the wake of the COVID-19. 

“Basi­cally you had two options: first, they could do a number of dif­ferent pre­re­corded tours, which can be like taking a YouTube video of a student walking around campus and talking into a camera,” said Lawe. “Or there’s the flip side, which is just a purely live video chat, some­thing like Zoom, where you get on a call with an admis­sions officer, maybe they run you through a slideshow, but it’s not very inter­active and it’s not very fun.”

When con­ducting research with high school stu­dents, Lawe says he dis­covered that not many of them responded pos­i­tively to Zoom experiences. 

“They’ve lost a good portion of their high school careers to Zoom. They’ve been talking with their grand­parents over Zoom, and now, when they’re looking at col­leges and vis­iting dif­ferent schools — which should be an exciting expe­rience — and that’s taking place over Zoom as well,” Lawe said.

Lawe had been dis­cussing the idea with his dad, who is an entre­preneur, but had ini­tially set it aside for after college. However, when the coro­n­avirus broke out in March 2020, they decided that the time was right. 

“It’s been a kind of ongoing dis­cussion that my dad and I have been kicking back and forth over the years. It seems like col­leges in general, but par­tic­u­larly medium to small liberal arts schools are in an over­in­flated market, and it’s becoming more and more dif­ficult for them to survive,” Lawe said. “We realized it was a perfect oppor­tunity because col­leges were going to get hit really hard because they couldn’t recruit in person.”

Although he is grad­u­ating with a degree in Financial Man­agement, Lawe believes that if he were to do it over again, he probably wouldn’t choose that major again. 

“I think a lot of even what I’ve learned in the finance major would be acces­sible via YouTube or Wikipedia,” Lawe said. “I’m very happy that I went to Hillsdale though, it grows you as a person and forms you into the type of indi­vidual that can be a suc­cessful adult and a suc­cessful entrepreneur.”

Lawe was involved with mul­tiple financial and entre­pre­neurship clubs at Hillsdale from the very beginning of his college career. He revived Hillsdale’s entre­pre­neurship club, Enactus, and is cur­rently the pres­ident of Hillsdale’s Investment Club. Lawe ulti­mately believes, however, that entre­pre­neurship comes down to the stu­dents themselves . 

“I really don’t think that the best way to develop an entre­pre­neurial presence on campus is to go to Career Ser­vices or the Business department. I think it’s going to come from the stu­dents taking risks and putting them­selves out there.”