Student Spotlight: Isaac Fung
The entrepreneurial spirit can’t simply be taught – it’s something that must develop within. Entrepreneurs actively pursue knowledge, act with passion and purpose, and seek to improve the world as we know it. During his time at the University of Michigan, Isaac Fung’s passion for innovation has led him on a journey to discover what entrepreneurship means to him.
Isaac’s path to becoming an entrepreneur started in childhood, where he always had the desire to understand how things worked.
“Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to learn how to be really good at building things, which eventually took the form of software engineering when I first learned to code.”
In high school, Isaac joined a VEX Robotics team. When he discovered that no one on the team knew how to code, he took it upon himself to learn C++, the programming language required to control their robot’s movements. With his self-taught coding knowledge, Isaac led his team all the way to the international competition. Along the way, Isaac developed a new appreciation for seeing the effects of his code on real-life situations. This inspired him to get his degree in engineering.
“Through this journey, I realized how enjoyable it was to learn new programming concepts and see its physical effects on our robot, encouraging me to apply to computer science/engineering programs,” said Fung.
In his freshman year at the University of Michigan, Isaac participated in MHacks 11, a hackathon run by UMich students. His team developed a camera that scanned an item’s nutritional information, making it easy for health-conscious users to make informed food choices. He found that he enjoyed the process of integrating software and hardware to build something new, discovering a new sense of purpose in using his skills to improve the lives of others.
“I recognized how powerful software was as a tool that could be applied to almost any industry. I love identifying problems in different fields and thinking about how to solve them with software, which has led me to pursuing a career in entrepreneurship.”
This new interest in entrepreneurship was accelerated when Issac met David Kobrosky, his lab partner in a data structures and algorithms class. David told Isaac about the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program at the Center for Entrepreneurship. ELP is a program that equips students with a rigorous curriculum and one-on-one mentorship opportunities to lead them onto an entrepreneurial path during and after their college career.
“David told me about the CFE program he was a part of, the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program, and how he really enjoyed meeting other passionate UMich students interested in entrepreneurship. I ended up participating in ELP my junior year where I met some amazing friends who I continue to keep in touch with and have supported me throughout my entrepreneurial journey.”
During his time in the ELP, Isaac had the opportunity to connect with some of the most innovative entrepreneurial minds in the industry, including Zack Urlocker, CEO of Gatsby and Ex-COO of Duo Security, and investors at top VC firms including Jonathan Golden of New Enterprise Associates and Tess Hatch of Bessemer Venture Partners. These conversations ultimately solidified his decision to pursue entrepreneurship and found his very own startup.
Inspiration struck in November 2021 when Isaac met Besart Çopa in an online e-commerce community. Besart shared his frustrations with shopping online, expressing that he wished there was a way to save all the products he was interested in and get alerts when they drop in price. Isaac had previously completed an internship at Amazon and worked on another startup in a similar space, so this project aligned with his previous experience and passion for solving real-world problems with technology. Together, Isaac and Besart set out to fill this hole in the e-commerce market and make online shopping easier, more efficient, and more affordable. From there, Chestr was born.
“Chestr is a one-click wishlist that lets users save items from any online store and get notified of discounts. Users can also see what their friends, family, and favorite domain experts are buying or are interested in.”
Before the end of his senior year, Isaac was set to work as a software engineer for an autonomous vehicle company. However, just weeks before graduation, he was accepted into the Neo Accelerator program, where he received a competitive investment offer that allowed him to work on Chestr full time.
“Rather than delaying the start of my career as a founder and taking a conventional job, I wanted to devote my time to my dream of building the future of social e-commerce.”
Today, Isaac and Besart are working around the clock to make Chestr even better and grow their user base. Within the past few months, they’ve acquired more than one hundred users around the world who’ve found Chestr to be the solution for their online shopping needs.
“I am so excited for the journey ahead and grateful for the support from friends, family, the entrepreneurial community at UMich, and the CFE.”
Want to show your support for Isaac and Besart? Click here to view Chestr on Product Hunt. Be sure to upvote and leave a comment!
To learn more about the CFE’s Entrepreneurship Leaders Program, click here.