Written by: Willow Arthur
On a bustling afternoon at Hunt Library, I find a smiling Madeline Yun sitting amongst the multitude of students milling around – each attempting to navigate course loads, exams, professors, and activities. We share a sympathetic smile with the people rushing about; after all, it’s no secret to us that the life of a college student can be overwhelmingly hectic. And yet, I learn within minutes that Madeline is not only tackling college head-on, but, with her fiancée, is also running a start-up business, RapidCat Inc, while raising her five-year-old daughter. Awe-inspiring endeavors that many would deem unfathomable, but, for Madeline, are just a day in the life.
With humble pride in her voice and a pitch video at her fingertips, Madeline begins to explain RapidCat Inc’s purpose and plan – how the company is designed to use technology to give retail investors the same opportunities in foreign exchange that large institutions have, spreading the opportunity to be successful in the foreign exchange market to the everyday person. She explains how the idea grew with time, cultivated from a desire to use technology in a way that reached the goals she shared with her fiancée, the overarching one being that, “we’ve always wanted to start our own business.”
And that is exactly what she has done, while also attending NC State to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. When I inquired how it felt to start a new enterprise while still enrolled in school, Madeline admitted, “it’s very challenging. There are times when I have to balance getting all my assignments in on time, studying for classes, getting to know my teachers – all while raising my daughter and growing our business.” And yet, she says, it is completely worth it. Like a beacon of hope, the company’s future has inspired her to work harder and excel in her studies. “It motivates me, gives me more to work for,” she says. This estimable ability to place dedication before comfort in order to reach her goals keeps Madeline focused, prepared, and conscious of the why behind her work.
Though she consistently strives to keep the goal in mind, Madeline does take a moment to reflect on the hardships associated with starting the company. “When we first started developing our technology, we had to spend time and money so we could have a product,” she says, acknowledging the struggle of trying to take flight. She explains how overwhelming it can be to invest both resources and effort into an idea and admits to the uncertainty involved in attempting to create an enterprise. But, she assures me, “it’s also very exciting – the opportunity to start your own business, to be your own boss, is exhilarating.”
It is this exhilaration and diligence that has kept Madeline going despite the hardships. “The opportunity to have a successful company has always been a goal of mine,” she explains, smiling slightly at the recognition that she is on the path to do so. “And my daughter, she has always been an inspiration in this because I want to build a life for her where she has all the opportunities in the world.” A selfless gratification that seems to be the common theme for Madeline, whose gentle face lifts with determination at the thought of spreading opportunity to both her daughter and her customers.
With the promise of opportunity in the air, Madeline tells me what’s next for RapidCat Inc – “so much is next!” she exclaims, grinning happily with anticipation. “We just applied for Lulu eGames (NC State’s annual startup competition) and hopefully we will be giving our live pitch in April. We are also going to Toronto to go to the Collision Conference (a tech conference where buyers and sellers of technology assemble with emerging technology companies) where we will meet tons of investors and other start-up companies.” With these events in mind, Madeline recounts some to-dos: refining the pitch for the company and getting presentations prepared so they are ready to put their best foot forward.
By having a developed message and plan, Madeline is able to ensure clarity within the business model – one of the pieces of advice she would give to students who want to start their own companies, while also focusing on the importance of hard work and perseverance. “If you have the motivation to start your own company, then do it. Take the time that it needs to do it. It will be a lot of hard work and people telling you it isn’t a good idea, but if it’s what you want to do then put in the time and work hard.” The truth is that entering into the world of entrepreneurship takes sacrifice and diligent focus, but Madeline stresses that despite the immense amount of work, each moment is better than the last. “The lowest lows are the highest highs,” she says, sitting back contentedly to think of ways to relay the elation that comes with starting your own business. She goes on to tell me about the countless resources in North Carolina for start-up companies, something that she never realized existed. “There are so many resources,” she says, eyes wide, “if you want to start your own company, you won’t be alone on the journey.”
One of hard work, dedication, and excitement that Madeline Yun knows all too well. A journey, and a woman, that evokes inspiration and awe – a woman to follow.
Written by: Willow Arthur
Willow Arthur is a student at NC State pursuing a degree in English: Language, Writing, and Rhetoric. She enjoys journalism, creative writing, and poetry – along with food, fashion, travel, and approximately 100 more interests that come to mind when attempting to choose a select few to list. She is a member of the Windhover literary committee at NCSU and is always open to opportunities to spread creativity and enjoyment through her writing! For all writing inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.