This past week, students in E1 at Charlestown High School participated in their first Showcase, presenting their business models to an expert panel of judges who work in and around Boston. The students all had a nervous energy to them as they practiced their pitches with their mentors before the Showcase began. The kids were all really excited to be able to present what they have been working so hard on this year.
All spiffed up in their professional outfits, each company took the stage one by one to impress the judges with their organization, creativity and enthusiasm. The first group to present was Econizer, whose product combined a notebook and white board in an eco-friendly organizer. The second company to present their idea was Team Achieve, who came up with the idea of a portable pillow with a band around it to attach to any sort of chair (office, car, home) to make it more comfortable.
Liz Miranda, a judge who grew up in Roxbury, talked before the Showcase about how she knows how nervous these girls are who are speaking for the first time and she wants to make them feel comfortable. Another company that presented was Shorty Gloss, who had designed a refillable lip balm that was both hip and practical. Liz helped the girls here feel at ease when she talked to them in a conversational tone afterward talking about how much she loved the idea.
The fourth company to present was UPhone, who designed an attachable umbrella to any sort of cell phone so that you can text message or email in the rain without getting your screen wet. The judges gave out some really great tips here on the functionality of the device to make sure they had planned for all types of phones and to ask their friends what they thought of the idea and for ways to improve it. The final company that presented was The Spark who had come up with the idea of recycling old jeans into wallets and clutches.
As the votes were being tallied up, the judges went around the auditorium and talked to the various teams about their products and their marketing strategies. One judge, Meredith Rosenberg reminded Team Achieve that they were the ones who had come up with this idea and were knowledgeable on the subject. She advised them to be confident on stage and “even when you mess up, you’re the only one that knows that, we don’t, so you can just keep going and we would never even know!” After everyone returned to their seats, it was announced that Econizer was the winner of the Showcase. The judges seemed to agree that their combination of eco-friendly materials and pragmatism would really jump out to consumers.
Another judge, Herbert Castillo, explained why he continues coming back to BUILD: “The reason I continue contributing to BUILD is because I am passionate about youth development. I am proud to see that BUILD can excite students about their educations. Witnessing students take an interest in their own futures makes all the work worth it.”