Tag Archives: startup

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.

18-Year-Old Philadelphia Entrepreneur Seeks to Revolutionize travel in Guinea, West Africa

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Tarata Konneh, 18, of Philadelphia, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. Tarata’s enthusiasm for travel spun the globe before landing in Guinea, West Africa, where his company, Konneh Transports, will help traveling entrepreneurs reach their destination.

Tell us about your business.

Konneh Transports’ concept is based in solving the problem of easy and convenient 520-mile travel between Conakry and N’zerekore for entrepreneurs on business trips. The company’s mission is to provide comfort and a healthy traveling environment with licensed, up-to-code drivers, and inspected vehicles as well as enhance opportunities and accessibility in the Guinea region of West Africa.

What inspired the creation of Konneh Transports?

Konneh Transports was created after I took several trips to Guinea. While traveling like a local, I experienced harsh conditions in unreliable vehicles, and heard the laments and complaints of fellow travelers varying from dangerous conditions in the beds of trucks, overcrowding, and sanitary concerns.

How will Konneh Transports impact the world?

Konneh Transports’ accessibility will help expand the job market, create jobs, help natives secure employment, as well as invest in their community.

What are the next steps for Konneh Transports?

The company is seeking to raise $65,000 to purchase a vehicle, video monitoring inside the vehicle and to cover other expenses. In the coming years, we will work to expand services throughout the countries in West Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Mali.

To learn more about Konneh Transports, visit: www.konnehtransports.com

To stay abreast of Konneh Transports’ progress in the i.Invest Competition, sign up for our newsletter at www.i-investcompetition.com. To mentor or invest, email info@i-investcompetition.com.

Good luck, Tarata!

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.
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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.

Calling All Youth Entrepreneurs 13-19 Years Old!

Interested in showcasing your product or service and having your business idea evaluated by leading professionals from organizations like Google, John Hopkins University and BlueTree Angels? Sign up for the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. Online registration will open March 1-May 1, 2017. To compete all you need is a computer and a great business idea. To learn more, visit www.i-investcompetition.com or email info@i-investcompetition.com.

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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.

13-Year-Old Pittsburgh Youth Entrepreneur Uses All-Natural Ingredients to Create Lip Balm

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A’Niyah Dixon, 13, from Manchester Academic Charter School in Pittsburgh, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. With her business, Winter’s Heart, A’Niyah hopes to put an end to chapped lips once and for all.

Tell us a little about your business.

Winter’s Heart is a bubble gum lip balm that A’Niyah plans on marketing to both females and males. Unlike other lip balms on the market, A’Niyah crafts her products with safe ingredients including food dye, petroleum jelly, bees wax and bubble gum. To appeal to everyone, the lip balms are clear and sold in different colors; therefore, males can purchase a product traditionally sold to women.

What inspired the creation of Winter’s Heart?

After trying a number of different brands, A’Niyah became frustrated that no lip balm on the market was able to cure her dry, chapped lips. When she began to research the industry, she was shocked to see the ingredients in some of the big name products on the market, so she decided to create a safe lip balm that would protect and heal damaged lips.

What challenges will Winter’s Heart face?

The cosmetic market is incredibly competitive and dominated by big name brands that hold a large market share. A’Niyah will have to invest a significant amount of capital into marketing to expand outside of her community. Because she hopes to market to both females and males, A’Niyah will face a challenge presenting lip balm in a way that is appealing to both genders. She may have to consider expanding her product line to include other scents besides bubble gum to attract a larger customer base.

How will Winter’s Heart impact the world?

A’Niyah hopes to solve a problem that many people face on a daily basis: dry, chapped lips. She also hopes to serve as an inspiration to her community and prove that kids, even at the young age of 13, are able to get out there and make a difference in the world with hard work and dedication.

What are the next steps for Winter’s Heart?

A’Niyah hopes to secure funding to expand her business in the near future. She plans on using the funds to pay for advertising and also to expand her existing product line. She hopes to also have business cards created so she can pass them out in her community and spread the word about Winter’s Heart.

To stay abreast of Winter Heart’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, A’Niyah!

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

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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!