Kyle Musco: From student-entrepreneur to graduate and business owner
Student-entrepreneur: has a pretty good ring to it, don’t you think?
That’s how Kyle Musco felt when he and Andrew Komar, another sophomore at York College of Pennsylvania began a business together. Their company, Moena — phonetically named after the Greek letters of their fraternity — was launched in response to the duo’s first-place showing in York College’s Elevator Pitch competition in 2013.
“When York College announced the competition, they showed us this video with some ideas of what an elevator pitch is,” says Kyle, who graduated in 2016 with a degree in Computer Engineering. “One of the examples was a cup company; they placed ads on cups.”
The two students decided they would develop a similar product; one where everybody wins.
“We liked that customers get their drink, advertisers get their message out, and the cup company sells their product,” he says.
But, instead of using a cup as their ad vehicle, the boys chose a compact, affordable computer called a Raspberry Pi that allows any number of practical projects to be programmed.
“We used a Raspberry Pi to create a business through WiFi,” says Kyle. “We plug into a business owner’s router, so they can display ads that promote their business, or they can sell ads to a third party.”
Their idea was awarded first place. The two students received funds and some office space in the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, and Moena LLC was born. Eventually, they received a grant, and true development began. Moena software, with permission of the host business, monitored web traffic on the local network and injected ads in the user's web browser.
“Several versions improved the original model as we developed it,” Kyle says, “but we eventually realized that, although the advertisers loved it, it was viewed by the end user as an intrusion. We didn’t want to become that.”
And then there was one
After graduation, Kyle’s business partner moved out of the area. Kyle, though, wasn’t fazed by going it alone.
“I always knew I wanted to run my own company,” he says. “At first, you think you want to be the next big thing, but then you realize you don’t need to be the next big thing; you can just run your own company and help people.”
Now, Kyle’s software development company is helping several customers. MRG Laboratories, for example, was in search of laboratory web management.
“MRG’s customers have a lot of machinery that use oil or grease. Their customer will take a sample of the lubricant with a syringe and send it back,” he says. “I’m working on a program that helps MRG evaluate the sample to determine, for example, if that unit may be trending toward a mechanical problem.”
Kyle took over development of the FAST application, which was originally developed as part of an Engineering class project. This automated mental fitness assessment administers and scores testing of behavior studies.
“Previously,” he says, “they did it all on paper. What I’m doing streamlines the process, but it also gives them more useful ways to compare results.”
Sometimes not so solo
Kyle isn’t always working totally on his own. In creating the IronRide app for another external client, he moved forward by reaching back.
“As a student,” he says, “I was on the Capstone Project, an Engineering curriculum where you worked with a team on how to solve problems. Someone may know how to get A’s, but you also need to know how to work with a team and talk with people.”
Although he had graduated ahead of the others, Kyle utilized his relationships and hired several of those former team-members as student interns for the short-term app development project.
“We already knew how to work as a team,” he says, “so I could say, ‘Go off and do this,' and I could rely on them to get their job done.”
A solid foundation
Kyle’s parents were engineers. His father was a project manager for Boeing, and his mother worked at IBM before becoming a full-time mom.
So, when he arrived on the campus of York College, the inquisitive nature of making things work ran deep, but Kyle attributes his entrepreneurial approach to something more.
“I learned a lot of technical skills at York College,” he says, “but the most important thing they taught me was how to teach myself. In the tech field, you have to be constantly teaching yourself and improving.”