CYstarters Spotlight Story: GigRoot

By Maggie Larson, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

You know what they say, if you don’t succeed, try and try again.

This philosophy hits home for student entrepreneur, Matt Gustin. Before he stumbled upon the idea for his current venture, GigRoot, he was busy with a different startup.

Unfortunately, this pursuit didn’t work out how he imagined. Months and months went by of not making the progress him and his partner needed.

They watched on the sidelines as competitors crept up behind them and eventually penetrated the market and made a name for themselves. He didn’t want to give up on a business he had put so much time and effort into growing, but it was time to jump ship.

But as many people would let this put them down, it motivated Matt.

He learned from his mistakes and was already planning what he would do differently down the road.

He was an entrepreneur. And one failed attempt at a business wasn’t going to change that, in fact, it just brought him that much closer to his success story.

When he came up with the idea for GigRoot, he was determined to follow through with it. No more procrastinating. No more sitting on the sidelines. He was taking this idea to the first string, running with it, and not looking back.

What is GigRoot?

GigRoot is an online marketplace for student services. It is a platform that links students to other students who can provide help to them in areas that are outside of their field of expertise. Connections that would be so difficult and time consuming to pinpoint otherwise.

Services like tutoring, web designing, and even personal fitness training are just a few postings that will be featured on GigRoot.

It eliminates the struggle of finding the right people or the right resources to help you accomplish what you need to get done.

It’s in all in one place where students can post a service they need, as well as find exactly what they’re looking for. It also encourages other entrepreneurs and freelancers to post their services and become connected with customers.

In a recent interview with Matt Gustin, he gave greater insight into all things engineering and entrepreneurship and what is in store for him in the future.

| What gave you the idea for GigRoot?

I do a lot of side projects for people — To my friends, I’m known as the “audio” guy. But only my inner circle of friends know to go to me when they need help with audio technology. Additionally, I ran into issues when I was working a philanthropy event and needed a graphic designer to create a flyer but wasn’t sure how to go about finding the right person for the job.

I was aware of my personal struggles but didn’t think much of it at the time.

Then, last semester, I attended the Iowa State Innovation Pitch Competition, merely as an audience member to support some of my friends participating. Diana Wright told the audience that if anyone wants to practice pitching, we could enter last minute — that got me thinking.

My past conflicts resurfaced and I thought of GigRoot basically on the spot and spontaneously decided to pitch it. Obviously I didn’t win but I received some great feedback and knew I was onto something.

| Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?

It’s funny, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family but was told not to be an entrepreneur. Regardless of this advice, I found myself paving my own trail right when I came to college. In one of my classes my freshman year, the only premise was creating a project, essentially without guidelines. A blank slate.

I wanted to create something real, something that could be sold. Before I knew it, I had started a business in my dorm room. I guess entrepreneurship is just in my blood.

| What has made you successful so far?

Tenacity. Some people call it stubbornness or impatience but I prefer to describe myself as tenacious. When there is something I want to achieve, I go at it full force and will do anything to see that it’s carried through.

I know that even if I fail, I will learn something along the way so I am not afraid to go after what I want.

| What is the future of your business?

I plan on launching GigRoot in the fall at Iowa State and shortly after, continuing to expand it throughout the Midwest. In a year or so, we plan to go bigger — growing it across the nation and multiple universities.

| Have you experienced any setbacks?

I learned so much from my last startup attempt, what to do and what NOT to do, that I’ve been able to avoid making the same mistakes. From applying those lessons, things have gone smoothly so far, but I am always thinking ahead and preparing for what could come next.

| What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Starting your own business will demand skills and knowledge outside of your major or field of expertise so you have to always be willing to learn. Read books, find people, find resources, find programs, and don’t be afraid to do things yourself.

| What has been your favorite part of CYstarters?

Being a student entrepreneur, there are a lot of people who doubt you or don’t really get what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. You tell them what you’re creating and they say ‘Okay but what other jobs have you applied for?’

Being in CYstarters, I’ve gained such a great support system. They all believe in me and are trying to start things for themselves as well. They’re my type of people.

| What’s the next step for you?

I’m an incoming senior in computer engineering but, honestly, I chose that major to fuel my hobby and don’t really see myself making a career out of it.

I am going to keep pursuing GigRoot and want to see it take off. I also have other projects in mind.

I see myself as an entrepreneur and will probably keep creating startups for the rest of my life.

For more information about GigRoot and how you can part of the community, learn more at