Student Profile: Aidan Weltner, entrepreneur and photographer

With three majors, a business and 27,000 Instagram followers, sophomore Aidan Weltner is not a typical MSU student.

Weltner is from Boise, Idaho and came to MSU after making a carefully calculated decision. He created a weighted decision matrix based on 10 criteria. He only applied to a handful of schools and scored them according to quality of life, outdoor opportunities, size of the community, people within the community and the variety of programs offered at school. “First and foremost is the lifestyle,” said Weltner of his choice to come to MSU.

He also chose MSU because although he hadn’t decided on a major, and he was leaning toward business and photography. He has since declared a double major in marketing and photography and hopes to get his degree in  Directed Interdisciplinary Studies through the Honors College, which is a program for students to pursue areas that fall outside the established departmental offerings.

While taking Terry Profota’s introductory business class during his freshman year, Weltner discovered his true passion for business. The class worked with creating business ideas to solve problems. One exercise was to come up with ideas for business ventures. Weltner came up with two ideas he wanted to pursue. One was a gardening service focused on helping people grow their own food. Another was a rideshare app for skiers and snowboarders.

The gardening idea was used for the project presentation, and Weltner took his idea for the rideshare app beyond the class. ShareLift, an app that allows people to carpool to the ski hill, has now become an actual business thanks to Weltner and several team members.

“It was kind of a desperate plea being a freshman living in the dorms, not having a car, but having a ski pass and not wanting to waste days on a pass but never being able to find a ride and constantly watching people, particularly people like upperclassmen, going with empty seats in their car,” Weltner said.

He also sees several problems being solved through the app. “In terms of from an environmental standpoint, from an efficiency standpoint, from a social standpoint, I thought it would do really well and it kind of took off,” Weltner said.

Weltner is in charge of the business side of things, while other team members are in charge of development. ShareLift is currently going into the testing stage and will be launched in Montana, Utah and Colorado.

“I’m pretty dead-set on being an entrepreneur, whether that’s right out of school or a couple years after, I have a lot of business ideas. I really find the lifestyle appealing, and I find the risk appealing and the opportunity to instigate change onto a community,” Weltner said.

“You always hear the kind of cliché, ‘life is built on top of failures,’ kind of thing but it really is true and starting businesses, because the amount of focus and effort and risk that you have to take to get something off the ground is kind of unlike anything else. There really is no security starting in a business and I just find that very appealing,” Weltner said about the appeal of risk.

Weltner has been a photographer longer than he as been a businessman, having taken photographs since he was a kid. “That’s been kind of a constant in my life for a long time. I picked up a real camera when I was 12 and just tinkered with it for years until I liked the pictures I was taking,” Weltner said. He has interned for the Montana Science Olympiad, MSU’s Counseling and Psychological services and at an advertising agency in Boise called Drake Cooper.

Outside, Weltner enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, climbing, backpacking, fishing and recently started splitboarding. He also spends time listening to podcasts, Ted Talks and driving to destinations he wants to explore.

To view Weltner’s work, head to aidanweltner.com.