Levi Smith is president of Franklin Building Supply, a partner and sponsor of the Venture College’s Hacking for Homebuilding competition that challenges students to solve real-world problems posed by experts in the building field. Students devise solutions that could potentially grow into startups. Smith has also been an advisor for the event and has helped the Venture College connect with other businesses in the community.
Smith said he wanted to engage established businesses like his 40-year-old company with Boise’s growing start-up scene and help students “take a leap forward in their entrepreneurial journeys.”
“If you survey the U.S. today, there are no startup ecosystems which have laid claim to being the place for startups in agricultural-tech or construction-tech,” Smith said. “I believe the timing is right for Boise to be the place people think about for those startups, but it will require all the pieces of that ecosystem coming together to make those domains a focus.”
That includes businesses of all sizes and the university working together.
The unique format of Hacking for Homebuilding, “reverse pitches” in which businesses bring their problems to the table, has exposed students to career opportunities, and interesting problems and challenges that require multidisciplinary approaches, and the talents of students from many disciplines, Smith said.