Tag Archives: youth entrepreneurship

17-Year-Old NY-based Entrepreneur Develops Mobile App to Prep Students for SAT, ACT Exams

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Akhilesh Khakhar, 17, of Brooklyn, NY is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition. Akhilesh’s company, PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App, is revolutionizing the world of testing by bringing students together on social media platforms to study for the SAT and ACT.

Tell us about your business.

PrepUP: The New SAT and ACT Prep App is a free iOS test preparation app that provides an interactive, live, head-to-head match between its users. Users can take customized ACT and SAT practice tests, solve Questions of the Day, and view in-depth answers and explanations to thousands of questions.

What inspired the creation of PrepUP?

Two years ago, I suffered from a concussion that caused my brain to work and think differently. After months of physical therapy, I discovered that genuine interest and competitions were important in learning. I took this newly found knowledge and applied it to the development of a testing platform that would allow me to impact how high-school students studied for college-preparatory exams. I am proud to say that I am a 99-percentile scorer.

Test preparation is incredibly expensive for most households, yet is necessary to achieve the high scores required by top universities. PrepUP provides the service at no charge for everyone who needs it while bringing people together to study and compete in a fun and educational way.

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How will PrepUP impact the world?

PrepUP’s impact within the field of education and college-prep testing is groundbreaking. The venture will make B2B connections with established test preparation companies and school districts throughout the country. Students can download the application for free as part of their syllabus and lesson plans with its unique ability to personalize practice tests and tailor-made Questions of the Day. PrepUP is making studying fun and free at the same time.

What are the next steps for PrepUP?

Earlier this year, PrepUP became available at the iTunes app store. PrepUP is seeking to raise $50,000 to optimize the application and make it available for all mobile platforms.

To download the app, go to: PrepUP Website

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

Good luck, Akhilesh!

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!

13-Year-Old Pittsburgh Youth Entrepreneur Hopes to Beautify Your Garden, One Pot at a Time

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Andre Rhone, 13, from West Mifflin Middle School in West Mifflin, PA, is one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest Competition. Andre has always thought of himself as a creative person, and with his new business, Andre’s Plants, he finally gets to put these skills to good use.

Tell us a little about your business.

Andre created a decorative pot business so people in his community can display their potted plants or flowers in a beautiful setting. He uses items from around the house, such as ribbon and candy, to create unique, eye-catching designs that are so appealing, you just might not pay attention to the blooming flowers in the pot! After selling these decorative pots at community events, Andre realized that the demand for his product was high, and hopes to grow Andre’s Plants in the future.

What inspired the creation of Andre’s Plants?

After seeing so many plain pots in his home and around his community, Andre became frustrated. He looked at these pots as a canvas to design beautiful things with unique objects. Andre decided that he would be the one to use his creativity to transform the potting industry, one plant at a time! With his mom’s financial support, he began to purchase pots and decorate them with household items and candy pieces, and Andre’s Plants was born.

What challenges will Andre’s Plants face?

Each design that Andre creates is unique, which places a lot of pressure on him to come up with different ideas for items to use and how to place them. Because potted plants are a somewhat seasonal item, Andre’s pots may see fluctuations in sales, especially during the fall and winter months.

How will Andre’s Plants impact the world?

Andre’s mission is simple: to make the world a more beautiful place! Flowers and plants are designed to spruce up gardens and homes, but with decorative pots, they’ll be even more beautiful.

What are the next steps for Andre’s Plants?

Andre is currently not seeking investors for his business; however, he does hope to expand his business’s presence in the local community and on a larger scale. Eventually, Andre would like to open an Etsy store to sell his pots to customers around the world. Selling on Etsy would allow him to maintain low operating costs while reaching a huge audience.

To stay abreast of Andre’s Plants’ 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, Andre!

 

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!

 

Johns Hopkins Engineering Students Develop Virtual Hand, Wrist Physical Therapy Software

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Group photo (from left to right): Adam Polevoy, Parth Singh, Rahul Yerrabelli, Himanshu Dashora. Single photo: Benjamin Pikus

Rahul Yerrabelli, 18, Benjamin Pikus, 18, Himanshu Dashora, 18, Parth Singh, 19, and Adam Polevoy,19, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, are one of the teams participating in this year’s i.Invest Competition. Each of these young men are studying Biomedical Engineering, and were eager to solve one of the many issues facing the medical community with their company, MoTrack Therapy.

Tell us a little about your business.

MoTrack is a virtual reality software that has completely revolutionized the way that patients can receive physical therapy for hand and wrist injuries. Using the Leap Motion hardware and a webcam, MoTrack can track and interpret movements made by the patient’s hand and wrist. The patient can therefore complete physical therapy exercises at home and receive feedback on ways to improve in real-time. Because the exercises are designed to be more interactive and entertaining than traditional physical therapy, it is expected that MoTrack will have a higher rate of patient compliance to the regimen.

What inspired the creation of MoTrack?

After a friend suffered a serious wrist injury from playing cricket, these young men were surprised to see the intensive, time-consuming therapy that was needed to treat his injury. Years later, they participated in a weekend-long hackathon, MedHacks, where they were asked to use various gadgets to create a new medical invention. One of these gadgets happened to be a hand-tracking sensor used to track movements in virtual reality gaming. After putting their heads together and brainstorming, MoTrack was born.

What challenges will MoTrack face?

There are a few competitors in the same industry. However, MoTrack has the competitive edge when it comes to size and portability of the device. Furthermore, the current competitors are either focused in the European market or focused in general body therapy as opposed to hand therapy. In order to be successful, MoTrack will need to focus on educating consumers about the benefits of choosing MoTrack over other forms of therapy.

How will MoTrack impact the world?

Hand and wrist therapy is not only time-consuming, but costly and inconvenient as well. With MoTrack, patients will no longer have to schedule multiple appointments and travel to medical professionals’ offices to receive treatment. Instead, they will be able to do recommended exercises in the comfort of their own home while still receiving feedback about their progress and how they can improve. The cost of MoTrack therapy is far less than the cost of an in-office physical therapy appointment, so this software allows people of all income levels to receive the care that they need.

What are the next steps for MoTrack?

MoTrack has received $10,000 in non-dilutive funding from the Johns Hopkins University Ralph O’Connor Fund as well as an additional $300 from a Johns Hopkins University DMC grant. MoTrack hopes to secure another $50,000 from investors to cover the costs of patenting, running clinical trials and launching a large-scale marketing campaign.

To stay abreast of MoTrack’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, Rahul, Benjamin, Himanshu, Parth and Adam!