JM Basketball Player Balances Time on the Hardwood and in the Office

March 13, 2018 02:06 PM

(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester John Marshall Rockets boys basketball team is one win away from clinching a spot in the Minnesota State Boys’ Basketball Tournament—creating a full plate for senior guard Solomon Antoine, who is also focused on a career.

“Every day, (Solomon) comes to practice, he’s got a smile on his face,” Rockets head coach Jim Daly said. “He’s just really fun to be around.”


On Saturday, Daly’s Rockets will play for a Section 1AAAA title against Lakeville North—win or lose, Antoine’s goals won’t change.

“He has a really good perspective on life,” Daly said. “He knows someday, his basketball career is going to come to an end. Obviously, he has plans for after basketball, and I don’t know many 18-year-olds who are doing what he’s doing. He’s resilient. He’s stayed the course and has kept going through this process.”

During the school week, per day, Antoine is taking one class at John Marshall high school, as well as a few online courses—meaning he has more time to spend working to grow his company, Solken Tech, at Collider Coworking in Rochester.

“I’d say 40-45 hours a week, I’m dedicating my time to (Solken Tech),” Antoine said. “I kind of set it to be a technology company specializing in nothing, really.”

Antoine and John Marshall senior classmate Ken Nguyen started “Solken Tech” in June of 2017 (“Sol” is for Solomon, “Ken” is for Ken)—their inaugural project was developing a solar-powered phone charger, hoping to create a fidget spinner which could charge your phone simultaneously with the spinning.

After lots of effort towards the project, Nguyen and Antoine realized it wasn’t possible, but it led to the idea of developing an application for smartphones called “FAVR”—an application, or “app,” which is similar to the ride-sharing application “Uber.”

“You can request a task at your own price,” Antoine explained. “If you wanted snow-removal, you didn’t want to go out and shovel your snow, you can request, on the service platform, at your own price, $25 or $30 or how valuable you think your time is.”

Since June, the Solken Tech team has expanded—they’ve added fellow John Marshall senior Abdi Yusuf, and John Marshall 2016 graduates Haron Arama and D’Angelo Tines.

Arama, an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota—last summer, he was one of the youngest interns at IBM in Rochester, and he has experience with building apps in the past.

Tines, who is also a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, is a former John Marshall basketball starting guard, and he’s been added to help further the web development of Solken Tech.

Tines specializes in mentoring those who have questions regarding cryptocurrency and penny stocks, such as Bitcoin.

“I’m trying to give people the tools to be able to make their own decisions in the market,” Tines said. “I want them to get the viable information they can use. We want to incorporate that into our company, so we can be a one-stop-shop and have many things under the technology umbrella.”

In the future, Tines said Solken Tech would eventually like to integrate Bitcoin or cryptocurrency with the FAVR app.

“There are people constantly out there who want to make money,” Tines said. “Uber is a significant income for a lot of people, and we could provide jobs and provide more income, and make Rochester’s economy in the metro-area better.”

Solken Tech is a “limited-liability company,” and in total, since last summer, the Solken Tech team has put roughly $1,000 into the company.

For Antoine, who is hoping to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California following high school, the development of Solken Tech has helped him race into the real world faster than a normal high school senior.

“Our coach would always say, you have to ‘lock-in, lock-in, lock-in,’ so I have to make sure that I have some time to lock-in to basketball or lock into my company,” Antoine said. “It’s a big balance that I have to manage.”

Besides putting in full-time hours at Solken Tech, Tines is also a full-time student at the University of Minnesota—but Solken Tech is more than just another job for him and Antoine.  

 “I like working on this stuff that we’re doing,” Tines said. “It’s our company. It’d be different if we were doing miscellaneous tasks for someone else because we’re actually building something we believe in and something we believe can go far.”

Currently, the FAVR app in the beta phase, as Solken Tech continues to develop GPS coding and a news feed along with many other important parts of the potential app.

Tines and Antoine said they plan to test the app via a web-beta version, and they hope to have that version up “within the current months” in order to collect pre-market research to see if the app is a necessity.

Tines added the goal of the FAVR app if it succeeds in the pre-market stages, is to develop with “mom and pop” shops, so the app can connect with those shops to do “professional” work and chores.


Sean Tehan

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