Developing a Business Idea in High School

Our energetic and inspired high school students have just completed the fourth FEC (Future Entrepreneur Challenge) online program we’ve done at Harmony Plus since March. The 8-session program teaches young students the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, while also giving them the opportunity to develop their teamwork skills, their communication skills, boost their confidence, as well as learn from experienced mentors.

Throughout the class, Massi Genta, serial entrepreneur and FEC instructor introduced various concepts–such as customer discovery, value proposition customer acquisition, business models, and others–which the teams then used to work on their own startup ideas.

The 3 mighty teams chose to work on very different issues, which demonstrates how different their paths can be even if they all decide to pursue entrepreneurship. What matters is identifying a problem users are really facing as opposed to a problem students assume users are facing, testing it by doing customer interviews, and working on a project they feel passionate about so they can dedicate their energy to making it work.

For the final event, which took place on July 21, students pitched their ideas to experienced entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley: Greg Hargrove, Vlad Ionescu, and Maha AlNajjar.

Nervous but confident, the teams started their presentations.

Screenshot taken during the pitch event on July 21, 2020.

Gamerse

The first team that pitched their idea was Gamerse, a platform for gamers to buy and sell gaming equipment. Gamerse noticed that gamers must frequently get a better graphics processing unit and the existing platforms are very expensive. Since starting a business is generally difficult, but even more difficult when there’s competition, they mentioned that their competitive advantage is that their low commission rate encourages lower-priced listings from sellers, which would drive more buyers to purchase from their platform. During the Q&A session, Greg Hargrove asked “How do you ensure there’s always going to be a market for considering the gaming equipment goes obsolete pretty fast?” Gamerse said they distinguish between core gamers and those who are not as much into gaming and that their platform would provide an affordable solution for people who might not otherwise spend a lot of money to purchase the equipment on Amazon or other platforms. This showed they thought about their target audience very well. We hope they’ll pursue their business idea and make Gamerse a reality!

Charis

The second team that presented was Charis, a platform for low-income high school students of color to have easy access to volunteer opportunities. Charis’ goal is to help students improve both themselves and their communities. This platform would incentivize students through scholarships, volunteer hours, and even in-school extra credit. From their perspective, the current platforms either have an age range that is too large or are not able to filter by age at all, whereas Charis is designed especially for high school students. Maha AlNajjar asked Charis how they came up with this idea. Their answer reflects what most entrepreneurs go through: they said they started with a much narrower issue since they are all passionate about the environment but decided to pivot and target low-income high school students of color and offer various volunteer opportunities, not just those focused on the environment. This is a much-needed platform and we wish them the best of luck!

Drezit Up

The third team that presented was Drezit Up, an app that provides advice on what to wear to events. This team showed a prototype they built on Balsamiq, which made it very easy for the other participants to visualize how the product would actually work. According to Drezit Up, their competitive advantage is that they only target high school students and the app is able to provide nearby shops where they can go and purchase the suggested outfits. To do that, Drezit Up would partner with different shops and Vlad Ionescu asked during the Q&A session how would these partnerships work: would they receive a lump sum or would they get a cut of their sales profits? Their response was that Drezit Up would get half of the sales profits and the other half would go to the store/brand they partner with. Keep us posted, Drezit Up, we’re in when you’re launching!

During the Q&A sessions, the young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to clarify certain aspects and to receive constructive feedback on how to further develop their business ideas.

All the teams impressed the judges with their passion for entrepreneurship, but this FEC cohort also had to have a winner. This time, the judges decided that the winner was … [drum rolls] Charis, the platform for low-income students of color who want to get involved in community service. Congratulations to Melissa Garcia, Paulina Gutierrez, and Alex Huang for their awesome business idea, as well as a fantastic presentation.

If FEC sounds interesting to you, we’ll kick off the fifth cohort on July 23. We just have a few spots available so don’t miss the chance to register: https://harmonyplus.com/product/future-entrepreneur-challenge/

See you there!

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