One of the great things about the Catalyst Ranch philosophy is to give back whenever possible. To that end we partner with great organizations and sponsor other events that make a difference, like the South Side Pitch, hosted by the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School. Our sponsorship donation was to then provide meeting space to the winner of the Pitch.
The winner of the Pitch was Channing Harris, a Chicago native and son of a Chicago police officer, whose app, Excuse Me Officer, is striving for transparency between the police and public relations. The app is a platform for people to share all their experiences with cops, regardless of the nature. Here we learn a bit about Channing and the genesis of his start-up.
Name: Channing Harris
Name of your Company: Excuse Me Officer
- Tell us about your business and its history or a story of inception. With Chicago and America in strong tension between the urban communities and police officers, the country called for a new transparent source of accountability. Thus Excuse Me Officer was born. A mobile platform that allows the public to leave ratings and reviews on police encounters. Excuse Me Officer is an app that can recognize behavioral trends and recognize where to allocate appropriate training, punishment or praise within the police department.
- Describe how to take a good idea and turn it into something tangible, whether that’ s a full-fledged start-up or, perhaps, a volunteer opportunity: Eat, breathe and dream about your idea. Some of the best ideas come at random moments, or during the middle of conversations- always be prepared to jot them down. Developing ideas over and over in your head is how you make progress. Think about questions other people would have and develop the answers before asked.
- Tell me about a moment in life that made you proud, either of yourself or someone you know: Growing up I was constantly nervous about presenting in front of any and everyone. Group of 5, full classrooms, etc… I was just always shaking and my voice always showed it. However, as of recently, I’ve practiced pitching and answering questions to my Uber/Lyft drivers day in and day out. I recently presented in front of a crowd of 300 strangers, and super proud that not only did I not show signs of nervousness- but I was indeed calm and ready to take on the world.
- Describe something having to do with starting up a business that people might not know about: Collaboration is key. Ideas turn into projects and projects into companies, when you work with others. It takes a village to raise a child, and you should consider your idea an infant. Find out what connections you have that can grow and evolve your idea.
- What advice do you have for young people who are just entering the workforce? Never think inside the box. Never believe the chair you currently sit in, is the chair for you. Gaining experience is crucial to setting yourself up to being successful. Don’t rush things that are sure to come, respect the learning process.
- If you were a kind of bird, what would it be and why? A Raven, because Edgar Allen Poe. Why else?!
Check out the Excuse Me Officer (XMO) Facebook page HERE