- The J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at York College of Pennsylvania helped CEO Andy Lynch hone his augmented reality company’s business plan.
Sitting in a vacation rental, flipping through endless pages of outdated info and restaurant flyers in the ubiquitous vacation home binder has never been Andy Lynch’s idea of a good way to relax.
The York-based entrepreneur’s solution: HomeVision AR.
Andy’s augmented reality (AR) company maps vacation homes and allows property owners and vacationers to interact virtually with the home. When vacationers open the HomeVision AR app, they can digitally walk through a house and click on informational blurbs, videos, audio clips, or even shopping links.
Finding their network
When he first began working on HomeVision AR, Andy and his business partner, Mike Ferreira, joined the business incubator at the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at York College of Pennsylvania. He had been working from home since 2013 but knew if he wanted to grow, he needed to expand his network and resources.
“I would never go back to working for a corporate office,” Andy says. “I do what I do because I like what I do.”
Through the J.D. Brown Center, Andy and Mike were introduced to lawyers, accountants, professors, and other business professionals focused on helping startups. Taking their newly gained skills and resources, the duo honed their business plan and began developing their app.
In 2021, they launched HomeVision AR.
A York College entrepreneurial intern
They also connected with Brooke Blankenship, an Entrepreneurship and Innovation major at York College.
“My advisor turned my head that there were a few companies through the J.D. Brown that were looking for new employees to jump on board,” she says. “We set up an interview, and it sparked from there. I got an internship through the school that counted for credit as a social media and marketing intern.”
She came on as an intern and stayed on after her internship as a part-time employee. Brooke plans to transition to a full-time employee in the summer of 2022 after she graduates.
“I’ve learned so much and am getting so much valuable experience,” Brooke says. “Someday I want to start my own venture. This is an opportunity to grow with a growing company and watch the phases of growth.”
From fire safety to augmented reality
Vacation home AR wasn’t Andy’s original vision. He began his career in mechanical engineering but left the corporate world in 2013 to work with a startup on fire safety.
In 2019, he began looking into augmented reality as a way to map the dangers of chemical and industrial plants.
While that path remains in the works, Andy began pivoting to real estate AR in 2019 and brought on Mike — a longtime friend and fellow mechanical engineer — as the company’s chief operating officer to help make that vision a reality.
“As a startup, I always keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities,” Andy says.
Incubated and hatched
In 2021, the company was finally ready to hatch out of the J.D. Brown Center incubator.
They rented an office space in the heart of downtown York and have continued refining their app and expanding their ensemble of AR vacation homes.
With AR-mapped houses in the works along the Eastern Shore and Outer Banks, this summer’s weekend rental may be vacation binder-free for a few lucky beachgoers.
“If you’re going to start your own business,” Andy says, “definitely get into an incubator or an accelerator course. Before I joined the J.D. Brown Center, I had no idea what resources were available to me.”