By Kaleigh Anderson ’19
Gordon’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership recently hosted Startup Sandbox, a 36 hour challenge for students to take an idea and transform it into a business or nonprofit. Three different teams worked throughout the weekend to come up with a final pitch to present a panel of judges on Sunday.
The winning team received $500 and automatic finalist status in the larger entrepreneurial competition event that Gordon hosts, the Social Venture Challenge. Carter Crockett, Director of the CEL, said of the Startup Sandbox challenge, “Passion is essential, sleep is optional.”
Friday night, various students took the mic and gave two minute micro-pitches to the crowd in hopes of having their idea gain traction. The crowd received sticky notes to vote on which ideas they liked the best. Other students were then able choose which team they would like to join for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday, the teams finalized ideas, worked on market research, began product development, and met with several expert mentors at Workbar, a coworking space in the Liberty Tree Mall. Mentors included DeWayne Davenport from DavCard Group, Michael Wheeler from Wheeler Design Group, Steven Byler from GrowthLab Financial Services, and Paul Parisi from SaviorLabs.
Elaina Francisco,‘21, reflected positively on the progress her team made Saturday, as she said, “Today has been like a salad. You feel tired eating it, but it’s also colorful.”
Winning first place and gaining finalist status in the Social Venture Challenge, Saliha Shelton(‘20) and Narah Kum(‘20) pitched Down the Line. They said that this will be a cross generational cooking class to cultivate relationships between people of all different ages. Saliha said that this team is looking forward to the SVC next semester.
Receiving second place and winning $300, co-founders Elaina Francisco (’21) and Sophia Cannistraci (’21) proposed the idea of Rivers and Roads, a cafe set to open in Essex. They spoke about cultivating Christian community, and the need for a cafe in the Essex area since currently there is none. They pointed this issue back to the original population being one that was dominated by fisherman, who according to them, would be more interested in a Dunkin Donuts than a local cafe. They highlighted that over the past decade, the demographics of the area have shifted, and that the area would likely welcome a local coffee shop.
Coming in third place and receiving $200, co-founders, Joe Barnhart(’19) and Eric Lee(’21), pitched the idea of Storehouse, the AirB&B of storage. Their concept was to use empty closets to store boxes in for people who needed spare storage. They stated that this system would operate similarly to other self storage units, but would be more convenient and cost effective for college students who only need to store a few boxes.
From start to finish, initial pitches to final presentations, it seems all of the teams took their ideas to the next level, crafting intricate business plans out of that which began as just a “sandbox” of inspiration.