We sat down with different members of the 2015 Future Founders Fellowship to hear all about their experiences as collegiate entrepreneurs and how the Fellowship helped accelerate their success. Interested in joining the 2017 cohort of Future Founders Fellows? Learn more here.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
I have a few entrepreneurial ventures. My first was BuzyBox (it’s a collapsible storage box that doesn’t need assembly), and I created that a couple years ago when I was in college. I was helping my friend move out of her dorm room and her boxes kept breaking, so I figured out some way to create a box that didn’t need assembly that collapsed flat without tape and anything like that. And I took that and I figured, “Well maybe I can go on Shark Tank with this.” So while I was sitting in class one day, I uploaded that pitch video from the competition that I had won along with a couple of sentences and a picture of me and then three months later Shark Tank called me back. Then I went through this long (month long) grueling process of getting onto the show. I got on the show, pitched to the investors, and secured a deal with Laurie. Ever since then, I’ve pretty much been bitten by the bug, and I’ve come up with my second product, which is ZipTank (and that is a patented basketball jersey that turns into a bag). So I’m kind of in the process of developing both of my products and selling them in retail stores everywhere.
Why did you apply to the Fellowship?
I applied to the Fellowship because I had a safety net of school underneath me, and Emory was really supportive in terms of my entrepreneurial ventures. They had a mini incubator, a space for entrepreneurs to use, they had professors, and a million resources at my fingertips. I knew that once I graduated from there, obviously I could still use those resources, but I would no longer be in Atlanta, I’d be in Chicago. And that’s also my home base, so I really wanted to build a network of strong entrepreneurs and business advisors and peers that were also working toward the same kind of goals that I am.
What has been your biggest obstacle in starting your business?
My biggest obstacle in starting my businesses has probably been my age. I just graduated from college, so when I was first starting I was still in school, and it was really distracting because like I said I’m super, super passionate and obsessed with developing my products. That’s not the greatest thing, especially when you’re studying economics at a top university. So my grades, I had to keep up with those, and also try to manage my trade shows that I went to, and competitions, and talking to people to secure partnerships. Now that I graduated, I have 100% of my time to dedicate to my businesses, and I’m using 120% of that time. So it’s a lot better, but that time management was definitely a struggle.
About Future Founders
Future Founders is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that believes every youth can become an entrepreneur. We immerse youth in experiences that inspire and empower them to create their own opportunity. We believe this leads to a generation more determined, hopeful and equipped as they engage the future. Since 2005, our programs have served over 30,000 youth. The organization is powered by Capital One, CME Group Foundation, The Coleman Foundation, Keywell Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Accenture, The John E. & Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, Bank of America, Baxter, EY, Ford Motor Company Fund, Hoyt Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation, Smart Bet Charity, and many of the region’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders. Join us as we empower the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit www.futurefounders.com.
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