Creating an entrepreneurial revolution overnight isn’t easy. Just don’t tell that to the non-profit LaunchX, which started within MIT in 2013 to empower High School students through entrepreneurship. On March 17, LaunchX partnered regionally with the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship to host one of the largest student-run high school startup events in the Pacific Northwest. Over 60 High School students across Washington pitched companies they created in the field of environmental sustainability to a panel of renowned business leaders.
The “Demo Day” is a culmination of a year of hard work for the students and their startups, as well as the young entrepreneurs who organize the event for their peers. Led by LaunchX’s student Regional Director Angela Lin, this year’s event gave Launch students the opportunity to receive valuable feedback for their startups, network with other student entrepreneurs in the region, and build prototyping skills in a Design Thinking workshop. “What’s remarkable about Launch students is their commitment to creating positive social changes through their startups, instead of just generating profits,” said Lin.
The winning team from the event is a prime example of that. Sine-aqua seeks to help developing countries access hygienic products by making “water-less” soap for places where clean water is not readily available. “Ever since Dr. (Ignaz) Semmelweis’s contribution in public health, the importance of sanitation was widely accepted—yet most Third World countries lack basic resources to prevent millions of deaths,” said Jean Kim, CFO of Sine-aqua. “Our company was built upon this rudimentary need, and hopes to solve future concerns regarding the possible correlation of public safety issues to decreasing clean water sources.”
Sine-aqua will be invited to pitch at MIT in May at Launch’s International Demo Day. Powered by the alliance between Launch and the University of Washington, LaunchX’s Pacific Northwest Demo Day was an important recognition and celebration of youth entrepreneurship everywhere. With the Buerk Center’s own annual event—the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC)—this collaboration will drive innovation in environmental sustainability by mobilizing the next generation to think critically about key issues and design targeted solutions. “With the support of UW, LaunchX hopes to empower students to continue building connections and creating impactful changes in the Pacific Northwest entrepreneurial community,” said Lin.
“We know that today’s youth are capable of creating great change and that environmental sustainability is weighing heavily on their shoulders,” said Lauren Brohawn, Manager of the EIC. “To witness first-hand the level at which the LaunchX teams presented their ideas simply blew me away and gave me a glimpse of the students we hope to serve in the coming years at the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. I can’t wait to see how their ideas and startups evolve between now and then.”
LaunchX has helped create over 700 student-run startups in the last four years. In addition to events like “Demo Day,” LaunchX also runs a summer program that taps into the potential of ambitious high school students and “supports them through the process of launching an actual startup” over the course of four intense weeks.
LaunchX’s Angela Lin was a contributing author to this blog post. If you wish to support LaunchX students in the future, please sign up to be a mentor.