Unprecedented times. Uncharted territory. Social distancing. Distance learning. Zoom calls!
All these terms, and then some, are peppered into our every-day conversations. There’s no doubt the past several months have thrown most of us for a bit of a loop. People of all ages, in all industries, have been forced to operate differently — to adapt to uncertainty in a new and profound way.
Gone are the days we take the seemingly “ordinary” aspects of life for granted—like going to work or school, spending time with family and friends—. And now, as we face social unrest and calls for a necessary response toward systemic change, we are warmed by the stories of goodwill continually taking place around us each and every day.
We know there’s a lot of content to consume and process these days. That said, in an attempt to brighten up your feed, we’re sharing three stories of stand-out businesses - started by teenagers - playing a pivotal role in increasing their communities’ “good vibes.”
Vista Ridge Teen Entrepreneurs Make Seniors’ Mental Health a Top Priority
In August 2019, INCubatoredu students at Vista Ridge High School in Leander, Texas, created a non-profit organization called WalkThru. WalkThru uses VR technology to lead retired seniors through realistic landscapes they otherwise aren’t able to visit.
Many retired seniors struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation—and WalkThru’s creators believe introducing them to an opportunity to revisit a favorite childhood spot or the city where they first fell in love might help solve their problems. To spread the word about WalkThru, its teen founders visited retirement homes in their community to show residents how to use the VR system. Because VR is something most of their customers aren’t already familiar with, and the complications brought on with COVID-19, the student entrepreneurs wondered how they could communicate its value without physically presenting their product to consumers.
The young entrepreneurs put their heads together and created an accessible solution. They developed a location-based login system that recognizes a resident’s location, retirement community, and IP address as soon as they open the WalkThru app, granting them immediate access to more than 110 different locations to spend (virtual) time.
Student Entrepreneurs Pivot from Fanny Packs to Care Packages for Military Personnel
The Safe Pack is a business started by teen entrepreneurs at Barrington High School. The concept is a fanny pack with additional safety features to prevent phone loss and theft, especially at large events like concerts, sporting events. The Safe Pack was developed with large-scale events in mind, and was gaining popularity once COVID-19 hit. Its creators are passionate about the product and didn’t want to slow down momentum. So, they pivoted instead.
Rather than press pause on The Safe Pack, its creators repurposed the pack as a care package for military personnel stationed overseas. Each care package costs between $15 and $20 to make, so the students set up a GoFundMe page to continue funding their efforts. According to the students’ teacher, Hagop Soulakian, 'it’s clear these entrepreneurs are more concerned with helping people than they are with making money — and that’s admirable.'
Entrepreneurship Students in Naples Self-Fund Graduation Gifts for Classmates
It’s no secret that this year’s high school seniors’ graduations turned out differently than expected, due to COVID-19. Students across the country experienced feelings of frustration and disappointment in response to their graduation ceremonies being canceled.
That didn’t stop Lorenzo Walker Technical School student entrepreneurs from using their business to bring smiles to classmates’ faces. Founders of Nagen Vegan Bakery baked up two of their famous cookies for each of their nearly 3,500 classmates … that’s 7,000 cookies!
With An Entrepreneurial Mindset, Anything Is Possible
So, what do each of these heart-warming stories have in common? It’s clear: These students have an entrepreneurial mindset. That is, they have the willingness and ability to address and solve problems head-on. They see problems as opportunities not blockers, and have found purpose in what they're doing.
These skills are the same skills we see in entrepreneurs and INCubatoredu entrepreneurship students. Students who are resilient, creative, and agile are empowered to address problems they care about and create their own futures. Some create companies that make a difference in their communities. Developing a product or service that addresses a real problem—or, in some cases, simply brightens someone’s day—is exactly what we need more of today.
No one could have predicted the changes and calls to action that we’re all facing today. We’ve all been served a heavy dose of reality, and skills like ingenuity, perseverance, and problem-solving, along with purpose and passion for what we're doing, will help us forge the path forward.