Tag Archives: i.Invest National Youth Business Competition

Meet i.Invest Mentor, Steve Rice, Entrepreneurship Instructor, Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences & the Arts

Steve Rice, Entrepreneurship Instructor, Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences & the Arts

Tell us about your current job, why you do what you do and how it prepares you to mentor youth and youth entrepreneurs?

I serve as the Entrepreneurship Instructor at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA). ASMSA is one of sixteen public, residential high schools in the country specializing in the education of talented and motivated students who have an interest and aptitude for mathematics and science as well as a passion for creativity, humanities and the arts. Over the past five years, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast have ranked ASMSA among the “Top 25” public high schools in America.

Before graduating, all ASMSA students complete an advanced research project (similar to a capstone). My Advanced Research and Entrepreneurship course is one of the options students can choose from to fulfill this requirement. In this course, I am hands-on every day with the students as they develop a problem/solution hypothesis and then work to develop and validate a unique value proposition and business model to prove that their idea is viable.

I love the creativity, variety, and flexibility that this type of project-based teaching brings to the classroom. It is a true collaboration between the students and instructor.

I find that often young entrepreneurs just need permission. Permission to try crazy ideas. Permission to create something that doesn’t work. Permission to pivot and learn. My goal in the classroom, and out, is to give students permission to learn, grow, and succeed in a way that prepares them with marketable and transferable skills, whether or not they ever start a business.

What was the very first business you started and why? 

My first job out of college was a startup. We worked hard. We got lucky. We were successful quickly. But it wasn’t my company. I was building someone else’s dream, but I had been bitten by the startup bug.

My first business was a sole proprietorship massage therapy clinic. It was a mess! I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, business-wise. An early mentor gave me great advice though: “Start something small and make it pay for itself. Keep it simple. Fail and learn all the lessons you can. Then do it again.”

What three things should all young entrepreneurs be prepared for before they create a business?

#1 Young entrepreneurs should be prepared for failure. They need to understand what it is. To me, failure isn’t the opposite of success. It is the mechanism that entrepreneurs use to pivot, and it is a natural part of the innovation process.

#2 The second thing that can help young entrepreneurs is to be prepared for the unexpected. It will happen. You get to decide what any given situation means and the impact it will have on you personally.  For example, I was once fired from a “dream job.” At first, I was insecure and scared. But I decided that, in the long run, getting fired would be the best thing that happened to me professionally. On the backside of that experience, this has proven to be true.

#3 The final thing that young entrepreneurs need to be prepared with is patience. As an entrepreneur, you work harder than you ever have in your life. You will spend more money than you ever expected, and it will take more time than you ever thought it would. If giving up isn’t an option, then you can pivot–and even close a business–with confidence because you have decided you are in it for the long haul.

Tell us about your biggest business failure and success.

I didn’t have any idea what I was doing in my first business. My business plan was based on a fundamentally flawed assumption that added to the failure of the venture. I made all the major errors I think a person can. I stacked the cards against me from the start. But I did learn exactly how not to start and run a business! The wisdom gained from those insights are invaluable. In that regard, it was also my biggest success.

Why is nurturing entrepreneurship important to you?

Entrepreneurship at its core is a point of view, a set of skills, and dedication to learning. I’m committed to nurturing entrepreneurship because I believe that if a young person develops these skills and the ability to recognize how to transfer them and apply them in a variety of settings, they will never be unemployed. If a young person learns how value is created and captured, she can recognize the value she brings to the market and can learn to articulate that in a way that leads to unending opportunity. Recognizing and leveraging opportunity is a core skill for every entrepreneur. Every child should have the opportunity to develop and deploy these skills.

Name up to three educational classes, business programs or real-world experiences that played a key role in your success and why.

Years ago, I was heavily involved in Toastmasters International – a worldwide communication and leadership program. I was fortunate to be a part of one of the top clubs in my area and I learned the art of public speaking from some of the best in my town. Toastmasters also provided the earliest “lab” for me to experiment with leadership and learn how to be an effective leader.

At the same time, I launched my career with a medical startup. Going through the startup process on someone else’s dollar was a huge benefit in my professional development. I got to learn how a business grew (or didn’t) from the inside out.

To learn more about Steve, follow him on Twitter @StevenERice or on LinkedIn. To learn more about i.Invest visit, www.i-investcompetition.com.

i.Invest National Youth Business Competition Application Submission is Now Open

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA – i.Invest is pleased to announce that the 2018 National Youth Business Competition is accepting applications. Aspiring entrepreneurs, between the ages of 13 – 19 years-old, with a demonstrable product or service can apply until May 1st for the six-month web-based program.

Now in its third year, the program has attracted applicants from across the U.S. Winning individual entrepreneurs and teams receives a share of up to $10,000 in cash and in-kind prizes and the opportunity to be mentored by top business and academic leaders. In addition, entrepreneurs who complete the program receives on-going assistance, post-competition, to help them reach their personal and professional goals.

“i.Invest opens the doors for entrepreneurial-minded students to learn about business development,” said Michelle Jackson, i.Invest Executive Director. “Regardless of their GPA, geographical location or school affiliation, we look for innovative students with great products and services. The program’s goal is to empower the best young business minds to connect, collaborate and compete.”

To qualify, applicants must submit a concept profile, executive summary and pitch video. The application fee is $29. Scholarships are available for students from economically underserved communities through LifeSkills Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for youth and youth entrepreneurs.

All application submissions, mentoring and scoring are done virtually. To apply, go to www.i-investcompetition.com. To become a sponsor or to learn more about the program, email info@i-investcompetition.com.

POC: marketing@prsolutionsllc.org

2017 i.Invest National Youth Business Competition Winners Announced

PrepUP Shirt + Blazer
i.Invest first place winner and founder of PrepUP, Akhilesh Khakhar, 17

PR Solutions LLC today announced the winners of the second annual i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Five teams consisting of youth entrepreneurs, 13 to 19 years-old, walked away with cash and in-kind prizes after successfully completing a six-month web-based competition that included three rounds of scoring, group virtual coaching, one-on-one mentoring and a finale pitch event.

This year’s winners are:

  • First Place – PrepUP. Developed by Akhilesh Khakhar, a 17-year-old Brooklyn, NY high-school student, the free test preparation app brings students together on social media platforms to study for the SAT and ACT college preparatory exams. The app offers an interactive, live, head-to-head match between its users. Prize: $2,000 non-equity investment, title of i.Invest 2017 Youth Business of the Year and a one-hour consulting session with Don Morrison, serial entrepreneur and chairman of deal flow at BlueTree Allied Angels and former president and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters.
  • Second Place – Face the Facts. Created by Jason Kao and Chauncey Lau, both 17, of New York, NY, Face the Facts creates apparel for environmentally conscious consumers and display graphics in a way that supports a social issue while raising awareness. Prize: $1,000 non-equity investment and a one-hour consulting session with Don Morrison, serial entrepreneur and chairman of deal flow at BlueTree Allied Angels and former president and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters.
  • Third Place – Software Flow. Daniel Mousavi, 14, of Great Falls, VA., along with his younger brother, designed a board game and interactive game app – Immigrant’s Nightmare and Immigrant Challenge – to address the immigration crisis around the globe.  Prize: $500 non-equity investment.
  • Community Investment Award – Official Clutch Band. Birmingham, AL musicians, Timothy Huffman, 19, and his brother, Wesley Huffman, 17, help form the ensemble, Official Clutch Band. Performing a wide genre of music ranging from bebop, jazz, smooth jazz, R&B classics and Motown hits, the band released its first cd in 2016. Prize: $250 non-equity investment.
  • i.Invest ‘Rising Star’ Award – HoverHouse. Riley LeHane, 13, of Rhinebeck, NY created a hoverboard party pop-up and equipment rental company. Prize: $100 non-equity investment.

In addition, all the winners will receive a one-hour marketing consultation with PR Solutions LLC, a strategic marketing and public relations firm; the opportunity to be a vendor and/or speaker during the #EYECON Youth Conference in May 2018 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD; and, the chance to participate in a “Ask the Start-Up Attorney” no-fee virtual consulting session with Cherin Law Firm located in Pittsburgh, PA.

“The i.Invest competition was an amazing learning experience,” said first-place winner, Khakhar. “What really makes it different is that, over the course of six months, the companies progress and iterate while being guided by mentors. i.Invest provides the mentorship and feedback young start-ups need when they are initially pivoting and choosing a track to follow.”

To download PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App for free, go HERE. To view the virtual finale pitch event, go HERE.

The 2018 i.Invest competition will open for online applications, March 1 – May 1. Applicants must be between the ages of 13-19 and have a demonstrable product or service to compete. The application fee is $29. To receive event updates and for sponsorship information visit, the i.Invest website or contact Michelle Jackson at mjackson@i-investcompetition.com.

Special thanks to our Silver-level Sponsor, On The Set Youth Film Camp and the i.Invest 2017 Judges & Mentors:

Andre McGregor, Director of Security, Tanium/ Former FBI Agent & Current FBI and Technical Consultant for the TV Show Mr. Robot

Artis Keith Turner, President, TurnGroup Technologies, LLC

David Tucker, Jr., Founder & Executive Director, On The Set Summer Film Camp

Dennis Martin, President and CEO, Martin Financial Solutions, LLC

Desiree Young, Founder, Venture Walk

Don Morrison, Chairman of Deal Flow, BlueTree Allied Angels

Dr. Alain Briancon, CEO and Co-founder, Director, Kitchology Inc.

Dr. Chadd D. Carr, Managing Partner, 6massive Holdings, LLC

Dr. Mansur Hasib, Professor and Author, University Maryland University College (UMUC)

Dr. Tamecka Knight, CEO & Owner, Premier Pediatrics of Houston

James Parren Courtney II, Owner, Courtney Consultants, LLC

Jeremy Hunnewell, CPA, CFO & Business Strategist, ZEHNDER Communications

Ketaki Desai, Executive Director, eCenter@LindenPointe

LaToya Staten, Chief Collaborator, LaToya C. Staten & Associates

Matthew Miessau, Analyst, Epidarex Capital

Mike Capsambelis, Product Manager, Google

Mojdeh Bahar, Assistant Administer for Technology Transfer, USDA

Natasha Muhammad, Program Director, Urban Alliance & Executive Director, EYE for Change

Omar S. Muhammad, Director of the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC), Morgan State University

Professor Jim Liew, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Regina Tillery, Director and CIO, Maryland Department of Commerce

Rex Willis, Founder & Information Technology Consultant, Hi-Tek POS

Roger London, CEO at Corporate Links

Ryan Makhani, Founder, BuildMyIdea.org and Mentor, Good Works Houston

Shrenik Jain, Founder, Beacon Health –  i.Invest 2016 Youth Business of the Year

Timothy Taylor, CPA

Vernon Lee, Founder, Brightwood Management Partners, LLC

About PR Solutions LLC

PR Solutions LLC is a strategic marketing and corporate event planning firm that specializes in working with new and established ventures to build viable business models and to integrate innovative marketing tools into for-profit and non-profit business strategies. PR Solutions is the parent company of the i.Invest competition. To learn more, visit http://www.prsolutions123.com.

 

PR Solutions CEO discusses New Orleans’ Workforce in September Issue of Biz New Orleans Magazine

Michelle D. Jackson, CEO, PR Solutions LLC

Michelle Jackson, CEO of New Orleans-based PR Solutions LLC, discusses the Big Easy’s economic drivers, including workforce development and the emerging tech start-up community, in the September issue of Biz New Orleans Magazine. 

Click to read her article, The Sweet Spot.

More on Michelle Jackson:

Jackson is the owner of PR Solutions LLC of Louisiana, a strategic marketing and corporate event planning consulting firm, Founder of the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition and Executive Director of LifeSkills Foundation, a 501 c3 organization dedicated to advocating for youth entrepreneurship. Before moving to New Orleans, Jackson worked for six years for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) where she held the positions of Director of Federal Facilities, Director of Boards and Commissions and Director of the Office of Strategic Industries and Innovations, the agency’s first department dedicated to working with start-up companies in high-tech industries. Jackson led the policy development effort to create the InvestMaryland program, a first-of-its-kind legislative initiative that raised $84 million for seed and early-stage ventures and the InvestMaryland Challenge, Maryland’s first international business competition for advanced technology startup companies. Jackson is a military wife and published author. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The University of Alabama and Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University. 

Meet i.Invest Judge and Cybersecurity Expert, Dr. Chadd Carr

Chadd Carr
In 2017, Dr. Chadd Carr, Managing Partner, 6massive Holdings, LLP joined i.Invest as a judge and mentor. Bringing with him over 18 years in the fields of cyber investigations and intelligence, Carr has also founded and exited several services and product-based companies. His extensive experience in business development and dedication to youth entrepreneurship has been an asset to helping i.Invest prepare the next generation of business leaders.  
Tell us about your current position, why you do what you do and how it prepares you to mentor youth and youth entrepreneurs?
6massive is a company focused on conceiving, developing, and taking to market those technologies that the world will want tomorrow.  As a Partner at 6massive, I am directly responsible for a portfolio of up to 10 technologies, each with its own development cycle and market strategy, all operating in parallel.  My portfolio ranges from advanced cyber threat intelligence tools, to career apps based on artificial intelligence, to learning and certification services for federal contractors, to socially-driven mobile apps.  Usually, to expedite the go-to-market timeline, we often seek outside investment capital, which means I spend a great deal of my time pitching angel and accredited investors.  I am also a college Professor dedicated to teaching, motivating, inspiring, and mentoring the next generation of industry giants.  I have found success in converting this experience into a roadmap our younger generation can consider as they set out to capture their dreams.
What was the very first business you started and why? 
I’ve been an entrepreneur for as far back as I can remember.  I’m sure my parents can go even further back. From buying a bag of candy and selling handfuls to classmates in elementary school, to borrowing lawnmowers from neighbors and sharing a percentage of revenue with friends who actually cut the grass, to buying and re-selling things on eBay, I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship. And it was never (and still isn’t) about how many dollars I could collect that motivated me.  It was the actual process of creating value where value didn’t exist before.  One of my favorite quotes came from one of my favorite TV shows, Discovery’s Gold Rush, is  “You’re already millionaires.  The only thing is, you gotta get it out of the ground.”  With imagination, perseverance, and insane work ethic, there are almost infinite paths to success, however you define it.
What three things should all young entrepreneurs be prepared for before they create a business?
#1 It’s hard work.  Really hard.  Entrepreneur Lori Greiner [from TV Show Shark Tank] said it best, entrepreneurs are “the only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.”  It’s a lifestyle, not a profession.
# 2  It can be lonely.  Successful entrepreneurs are the ones trekking paths others don’t see value in.  A lot of what they do doesn’t make sense to others, therefore, a lot of feedback and guidance they receive from others aren’t necessarily positive.  Non-entrepreneurs like to classify outcomes as either a “success” or “failure.” Entrepreneurs typically classify something as “that worked”, or, “it didn’t work… that time.”
#3  Commit to building yourself, before you build your product.  Your best brand–your most important brand–is yourself.  Investors do not invest in businesses or technologies.  They invest in the people behind them.  Build credibility through personal and professional relationships, education, and proven history of hard work.  Those three components provide the nutrients from which your “product” will eventually grow from and thrive.  Also, the product you begin with, most likely, won’t be the same product you will end with.  However, the two constants throughout that evolution, will be your health and your family.  Protect those.  Nurture those. Despite whatever path the product takes, in the end, what you will value above all else, will be those two things.
Tell us about your biggest business failure and success.
I don’t believe in failures.  Even though I’ve had things that didn’t work at a particular time, under a particular set of circumstances, I’ve also walked away smarter and better prepared to tackle the next challenge.  Success… failure… both are part of the journey, but neither are a destination.  My wins are simply byproducts of an amazing, resilient, and incredibly patient family. If I had to name one success, it would be that I’ve been able to strike a healthy balance between my entrepreneurial insanity and helping foster a loving family.
Why is nurturing entrepreneurship important to you?
How does the saying go… in society, 97 percent of people who said it could not be done, work for the 3 percent who said it could be done?  Something like that.  As a father, I’ve always told my kids, “you can either spend your time aiming for the corner office or some fancy title (which someone else has built), or,  you can spend your time creating those corner offices and titles.”  Both paths have their own pros and cons, but I wanted my kids to grow up in a world where both were interchangeable and equally possible.  Only through observable entrepreneurship can that happen.
Special thanks to Dr. Carr for his dedication to i.Invest Competitions. To learn more about the competition visit, www.i-investcompetition.com.

i.Invest 2016 Winner, Beacon Health, Raises $225K in Pre-Seed Funding

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Founders, Shrenik Jain & Ravi Shah (center & right); Chief Data Scientist Satya Prateek Bommaraju (left)

In 2016, 19-year-old founder of Beacon Health, Shrenik Jain, took home the top prize from the i.Invest National Youth Business Competition with his mobile app designed to help people struggling with mental illness. Since winning the competition and being named the i.Invest 2016 Youth Business of the Year, Jain, Co-Founder Ravi Shah and Chief Data Scientist Satya Prateek Bommaraju, have diligently worked to transform their innovative idea into a successful health IT business.

Beacon Health’s mobile app has captured the attention of investors and customers from public and private sectors. The platform allows users to create an anonymous profile, search for the issue most relevant to them and instantly be connected with other Beacon Health members with similar mental health challenges as well as trained professionals. The platform offers anonymity and support by utilizing a natural language processing algorithm that can detect vulgar or malicious content and therefore prevent cyber bullying.

Since winning the i.Invest top prize which included $2,000 cash and a host of in-kind awards last October, the Beacon Health team has raised $225,000 in pre-seed funding. They will open a seed round with the goal of raising $600,000 in May-June. The ideal investors would be focused in healthcare and bring potential deployment sites in addition to capital.

The current backers include, the National Institute of Health (NIH), Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). NIH is mentoring the team in an effort to help them secure SBIR grants.

The Beacon Health staff has also grown. They currently have 10 employees, and are considering opening a second office in Boston, which will focus on research and development. They have signed 9 LOIs, some from major cities such as Denver and Nashville, to deploy their product once the pilots conclude.

Beacon Health’s app is live at several pilot sites, including Johns Hopkins University and Mindoula Health.

For more information on how to connect with Beacon Health email info@i-investcompetition.com or go to, http://www.beaconhealth.co/.

Congratulations, Shrenik, Ravi & Satya!

Meet i.Invest Judge and Entrepreneur, Dr. Tamecka Knight

In 2016, Dr. Tamecka Knight, owner of Premier Pediatrics in Houston, Texas, volunteered as an i.Invest National Youth Business Competition judge and mentor. In 2017, she expanded her role to include joining the board of directors for the LifeSkills Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources for i.Invest Competitions. In her own words, Dr. Knight discusses why she supports youth entrepreneurship.
tamecka-knight
Tell us about your current position, why you do what you do and how it prepares you to mentor youth and youth entrepreneurs?
I am CEO of a rapidly growing pediatric medical practice in the Houston Metropolitan area. Not only do I own the practice; I also provide care to about 4,000 patients yearly. Because I work exclusively with pediatric patients, I see the creativity, the entrepreneurial spirit and the need for mentorship.
What three things should all young entrepreneurs be prepared for before they create a business?
Know your vision! Know how to handle failure. Simply, work hard.  In order to grow a business you have to know your growth potential. Have a plan, follow that plan, but be amendable to change when the plan does not go as planned. Failures during some aspects to the business development process will and need to occur to keep you growing. Surmount it and continue towards your vision. Lastly, work hard towards your vision. Hard work pays off every time. Failure is not an option.
Tell us about your biggest business failure and success.
My biggest failure was believing everyone would understand my vision, and therefore, everything would fall into place. You must know your vision and be able to sell it to everyone. Knowing that failure is not an option is the key to success.
Why is nurturing entrepreneurship important to you?
Entrepreneurship must be fostered early on in our youth. Our youth have the most creative minds and vision than any other generation. Equipping them with an entrepreneurial mindset encourages not only self-development in the youth, but serves to build the community and the economy.
Name the educational classes, business programs or real-world experiences that played a key role in your success and why.
Attending the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Starting Your Own Business classes allowed me to network with like-minded people who were on the same journey of learning the technical side of making our dreams and visions become reality.
Special thanks to Dr. Knight for her dedication to i.Invest Competitions. To learn more about the competition visit www.i-investcompetition.com.

2016 i.Invest National Youth Business Competition Winners Announced

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Businesses from left to right: MoTrack, Beacon, RapidFire & Hopes for the Best.

PR Solutions LLC today announced the winners of the first annual i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Mentored by a group of volunteer business and academic leaders from organizations, including Google, SEI Investments and Johns Hopkins University, four teams were selected from a pool of more than 25 to compete in a six-month web-based competition in order to qualify for the top prize.

This year’s winners are:

  • First Place Beacon (formerly Atrium). Developed by Shrenik Jain, a 19-year-old Baltimore, MD resident. Beacon is a mobile platform that offers anonymity and support to those suffering from mental health issues. Prize: $2,000 non-equity investment, title of Invest 2016 Youth Business of the Year and the opportunity to pitch at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
  • Second Place – MoTrack Therapy. Developed by Rahul Yerrabelli, 18, Benjamin Pikus, 18, Himanshu Dashora, 18, Parth Singh, 19 and Adam Polevoy,19, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. MoTrack is a virtual reality software that has revolutionized the way patients can receive physical therapy for hand and wrist injuries. Prize: $1,000 non-equity investment
  • Third Place – RapidFire. Developed by Marc Baghadjian, 17, from Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT. RapidFire is an automated air-soft gun clip with the capacity to increase bullets to 400 per round, making the air-soft sport experience completely hands-free for users. Prize: $500 non-equity investment
  • Community Investment Award – Hopes for the Best. Developed by Cheyenne Rhone, 15, from West Mifflin High School in West Mifflin, PA. Hopes for the Best designs a fashion survival bracelet made from a special material called para cord 550 that can safely hold up to 500 lbs. Prize: $250 non-equity investment;opportunity to observe a BlueTree Allied Angels screening meeting and to participate in a one-hour consulting session with serial entrepreneur and executive director/chairman, Don Morrison; face-to-face legal consultation from Cherin Law Firm in Pittsburgh, PA and e-commerce consultation from LaToya C. Staten & Associates in Baltimore, MD.

In addition, all the winners will receive a one-hour marketing consultation with PR Solutions LLC; the opportunity to be a vendor and/or speaker during the #EYECON Youth Conference in May 2017 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD; and, the opportunity to participate in a “Ask the Start-Up Attorney” no-fee virtual consultation with Cherin Law Firm.

“To say the competition exceeded our expectation is an understatement,” said executive director, Michelle Jackson. “We set out to create a mentoring program focused on bridging the gap between youth entrepreneurs with viable products and experienced business leaders. However, what we ultimately have is a way to shine a light on creative ideas being developed by the next generation of innovators – youth who learn through this process that no matter their age, geographical location or educational accomplishments, creating a great product can transcend all perceived limitations.”

The i.Invest competition is open to youth 13 to 19 years old with a demonstrable product or service. During the three rounds of scoring, applicants are required to submit a business concept profile, business plan, pitch video and participate in on-line group coaching with select judges.

“i.Invest doesn’t end with the awarding of prizes,” said Jackson. “Now that the winners have completed the process, they will continue to have access to our mentors. We are here to help them reach their personal and professional goals.”

The 2017 i.Invest competition will be launched in the coming months. To receive event updates and sponsorship information visit the i.Invest website or contact Michelle Jackson at mjackson@i-investcompetition.com.

Special thanks to the i.Invest 2016 Judges & Mentors

Artis Keith Turner, Serial Entrepreneur, President of TurnGroup Technologies, LLC, 2015 Innovation Fellowship for the Venture Café & YouthCITIES Youth

Craig Dixon, AWS Educate, Amazon Web Services

Curtis H. Austin, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton

Daraius Irani, Associate VP, DIAR of Towson University

David Tucker, Jr., Founder & Executive Director, On The Set Summer Film Camp

Don Morrison, Chairman of Deal Flow, BlueTree Allied Angels

Dr. Mansur Hasib, Professor and Author, University System of Maryland

Dr. Tamecka Knight, CEO & Owner, Premier Pediatrics of Houston

James Parren Courtney II, Owner, Courtney Consultants, LLC

Jennifer Mrzlack Co-founder, Naturi

Jerry Cozewith, Director of Development, Sarah Heinz House

Julie Kantor, CEO and Founder, Twomentor LLC

Ketaki Desai, Executive Director, eCenter@LindenPointe

LaToya Staten, Chief Collaborator, LaToya C. Staten & Associates

Matthew Miessau, Analyst, Epidarex Capital

Mike Capsambelis, Product Manager, Google

Mojdeh Bahar, Assistant Administer for Technology Transfer, USDA

Omar S. Muhammad, “Intrapreneur” & Director of the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC), Morgan State University

Professor Jim Liew, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Regina Tillery, Director and CIO, Maryland Department of Commerce

Roderick Square, General Electric Hitachi

Susan R. Ramonat, Business Development Executive, Chief Risk Officer, SEI Investment

Timothy Taylor, CPA

Vernon Lee, Founder, Brightwood Management Partners, LLC

About PR Solutions LLC

PR Solutions LLC is a strategic marketing and corporate event planning firm that specializes in working with new and established ventures to build viable business models and to integrate innovative marketing tools into for-profit and non-profit business strategies. PR Solutions is the parent company of the i.Invest competition. To learn more, visit http://www.prsolutions123.com.

17-Year-Old Greenwich, Connecticut Youth Entrepreneur Redefines the Airsoft Experience

Self-Portrait

Marc Baghadjian, 17, from Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. Marc took his passion for the airsoft experience and turned it into a viable business, RapidFire.

Tell us a little about your business.

Traditional airsoft guns have a capacity of around 30 bullets, which can be shot out in approximately 15 seconds. Every time the user has to reload the magazine, he or she will waste about 30 seconds manually churning the equipment to properly load in the ammo. With RapidFire, this manual churning process is automated, and the capacity increases to around 400 bullets, making the airsoft experience completely hands-free for users.

What inspired the creation of RapidFire?

Being a huge fan of airsoft, Marc became frustrated with the time that it took to load bullets into the weapon. He began to realize that every reload was costing him between 20-30 seconds, only to run out of bullets within a minute or so because of the limited capacity of the magazine. He decided to design a magazine that not only would hold up to 400 bullets, but also reload on its own, allowing customers to focus on the game and not on their ammo.

What challenges will RapidFire face?

RapidFire would like to get into licensing deals with larger companies. To do so, they will need to convince seasoned brands why RapidFire is more beneficial than the existing product. This is a niche market; therefore, RapidFire will have to become a market leader in order to grow into a strong business.

How will RapidFire impact the world?

RapidFire will revolutionize the growing airsoft industry and make it easier for people to handle the equipment. Because RapidFire will load on its own, users will not need to focus on learning how to stop and reload when out of ammo.

What are the next steps for RapidFire?

RapidFire’s first goal is to complete the production of a marketable product at the Thayer School of Engineering. Marc expects this to take around 3-6 weeks to complete. Once this phase is done, Marc will move on to contacting large airsoft manufacturers to discuss potential licensing deals. Down the road, Marc hopes that one day this technology will be universally used for every airsoft magazine.

To stay abreast of RapidFire’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit www.i-investcompetition.com and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Marc!

 

Youth Social Entrepreneur & i.Invest Applicant Provides Specially Designed Bikes to Students in Bangladesh

 

Randy Wu
Wu, 16, Youth Entrepreneur from Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA provides bikes to people in Bangladesh

Randy Wu, 16, from Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. LyfeCycle, which started as an idea in a model UN class, has now turned into Randy’s life mission: to help the less fortunate in developing countries.

Tell us a little about your business.

LyfeCycle is a nonprofit organization that is on a mission to mobilize people around the world using bicycles. This nonprofit donates specially designed and assembled bicycles to students, entrepreneurs and healthcare workers in Bangladesh. The bikes are designed to meet the unique needs of each village in Bangladesh, something that differentiates it from its competitors. LyfeCycle recruited volunteers in Bangladesh to support their mission by contacting high schools and universities in the area. These volunteers run the division overseas and also support efforts to get the local government involved in the mission. Currently, bikes are sold through the local Bangladeshi government who support the efforts to improve the lives of citizens in rural areas.

What inspired the creation of LyfeCycle?

LyfeCycle started as a project in a model UN class Randy’s friends from New York, Jason Lu and Ariful Islam, participated in. They recognized that in developing countries, distance to healthcare, education and job opportunities hindered a lot of people’s ability to have a better quality of life.  They knew that giving these kids bikes would greatly alleviate the stress they felt in getting to school, so they set about figuring out how to provide bikes to developing countries. Randy  was passionate about providing both educational and industrial opportunities to the youth and wanted to help them achieve their goals.


What challenges will LyfeCycle face?

Because LyfeCycle is a nonprofit that relies mainly on donations, grants and fundraisers, raising enough capital by spreading the word about LyfeCycle’s mission will always be a priority. Right now, LyfeCycle is focused on providing bikes to citizens of Bangladesh, so they will need to expand resources in order to move into other territories.

How will LyfeCycle impact the world?

LyfeCycle enhances the lives of people in developing countries, specifically Bangladesh, by providing them with bicycles. When bicycles are given to underprivileged people in Bangladesh, they immediately have access to better educational, economic and healthcare opportunities. LyfeCycle is making the world a better place, one bicycle at a time!

What are the next steps for LyfeCycle?

LyfeCycle is currently partnered with the fourth largest law firm in the world, Kirkland Ellis, LLP. In the near future, LyfeCycle hopes to secure at least $3,000 in funding to expand their operations. With these funds, LyfeCycle will be able to offer more incentive for local organizations in Bangladesh to help their cause, and also secure more bikes that can be donated.

To stay abreast of LyfeCycle’s progress in the i.Invest competition, visit www.i-investcompetition.com and register for the i.Invest newsletter. Also, to provide support as a mentor or investor, please email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Randy!