Cedarville Grad Cleans Up

by Sharyn Kopf — Marketing

When Matt Hollis ’09 graduated from Cedarville University last spring, he decided not to join the usual post-college stress of resumé-sending and intense interviewing. In fact, he had already taken matters into his own hands when he started his own business in 2006, a software technology firm called Elytus, Ltd.

The basic premise behind the company is “to provide complete web-based software solutions to multi-unit operators with regards to vendor management and environmental sustainability, as well as waste and recycling management.” By using Elytus, smaller companies can now manage thousands of transactions, contracts, and dumpsters between multiple vendors and client locations without having to outsource the work to expensive third-party management companies.

“When implemented,” Matt said, “our software can show people exactly how much waste they’re generating. The program also shows them how to save considerable amounts of money on their solid waste.” And, according to the website, companies have the tools they need to “efficiently and effectively manage their environmental needs without a third party.”

It’s not something he’s doing entirely on his own. Former Cedarville professor Dr. Alan Dillman is Matt’s business partner. Though he didn’t actually have any classes with him, Matt appreciated Dillman’s willingness to serve as a mentor, adding, “He did everything he could to encourage me not to give up.” Matt also credits the business professor with teaching him about ethics and showing him how to make Bible-based decisions as he seeks God’s will for his company. Not only did Dillman guide Matt toward his career, but he also helped strengthen his relationship with the Lord.

A mechanical engineering major, Matt never actually took a business class at Cedarville. Yet Dillman was one of several professors who made it their mission to help students start their own business. They focused on teaching interested undergrads the joys and challenges of building a new company.

Nevertheless, Matt admits his mechanical engineering training gave him the ability to think outside the box and apply analytical problem-solving skills to business issues and solve them in more creative and effective ways.

Matt has also been surprised to discover that his professors were right. “Not too long ago, we were sitting in the conference room hashing out plans for a new module we’re going to release, and I said, ‘Well, let’s just apply calculus to it. That would make it easier to solve.’ And I had this flashback to some of my great professors stating that we might not use it now, but someday we would appreciate all the hard work they were making us do. Welcome to someday.”

In addition to the successful start of his business, Matt recently won a first-place award at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress. Having entered a speaking competition, Matt was judged on his ability to present a topic in an easy-to-understand manner within a 15-minute time frame. The goal of the competition was to encourage young engineers to practice giving presentations on highly technical subjects. After winning at districts in Dayton, Matt went on to Orlando to compete against students from Singapore, Cambodia, Columbia, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom, as well as schools like Tennessee Tech and Brigham Young.

His topic was a fracture fixation device used by missionary physicians in Kenya that Matt and a group of peers redesigned during his senior year at Cedarville. The device — a steel rod — replaces the central canal of a broken bone, allowing the body’s weight to rest on it while the bone heals. For those living in third-world countries, a broken bone can be fatal and treatment may be costly. Matt’s team was able to create a rod that dropped in price from $1,200 to $300. African citizens will soon have access to this device, which has the capability to improve their lives.

Though it’s only been a few months — and a lot has happened since he graduated — Matt is grateful for his years at the University. “God just led me straight to Cedarville,” he said, “and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”