As the plane landed in North Carolina for the TiE Young Entrepreneurs Global competition, the past year with TYE flashed through my mind. Until the beginning of sophomore year, the idea of being an entrepreneur never entered my mind, because to me, entrepreneurs were solemn-faced men in black suits carrying sleek suitcases. I had neither contemplated the complex nature of leadership, nor the innovation that lay just beyond the horizon. I had no understanding of EBIDTA, business models, and marketing plans, which are now an integral part of my vocabulary. I was just a high schooler with a multitude of evanescent ideas that needed the help of TYE to materialize.
When I came to the first TYE class, I had just come to absorb as much as I could, and to find out what it took to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, I was sucked into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship. I found out it wasn’t about working away behind a desk, but instead getting inspired by the real world.
The first part was actually the hardest: getting a viable idea. We took long walks, workshops, and churned out ideas that ranged from ordinary to out-of-this-world. However, Microsoft or Apple isn’t successful because they just had an idea. Their success is due to the hours put into the minute details of the monstrous business plan.
After about 15 classes filled with advanced topics, inspirational speakers (including Dean Nohria of Harvard Business School), and interactive activities, we had learned just about everything it took to start up a company.
Now all we had to do was start one and compete in a business plan competition in front of experienced entrepreneurs.
And that is exactly what we did on April 9, 2011. After a multitude of hours spent working on the business plan, the presentation, and the idea, Illumination Corporation, our company, was ready to present in front of professional entrepreneurs. Only we knew of the nights we spent tweaking our business plan and presenting in front of anyone we could get a hold of.
Along the way, I learnt what it took to be a leader, as the company’s CEO. I learned that leadership involved more than just planning, but also being a good friend to all the team members. Our team consisted of Namrita Murali (CTO), Anjithaa Radakrishnan (CFO), Roshni Patel (COO) and I.
Our mentor, Gopal Subramanian, guided and aided our all-girls team the whole way through. Our product was a wireless, solar-powered smartphone charging case, and even a representative of Texas Instruments approved of it. After six other amazing high school teams competed, we all gathered for the TYE Gala, where they announced that Illumination Corporation had won.
That is why, a month later, I stood in the airport waiting to compete in the TYE Global competition, and anxious to meet high students from various states and countries, including England and India.
In the weeks between TYE Boston and TYE Global, my team and I had worked really hard enhancing our business presentation and plan using the feedback from the judges from TYE Boston. We had received the inductive technology from Texas Instruments and had also put together a display model of our product. When the time came to finally present, we all smoothed the wrinkles from our jackets and delivered our business presentation to the honorable judges.
Yet, TYE Global was much more memorable for other reasons. We were able to meet incredible entrepreneurs from all over the country who all had done great things in the world of entrepreneurship. Also, we were pleasantly surprised by how excited people were about out product. Many entrepreneurs approached my team and told us that they were interested in our product. One judge even told us that our business plan was as good as many actual startup companies’ business plans.
These experiences TYE has instilled in me a love for innovation and business at such an early age, and I am eternally grateful for it. Even though I placed second in TYE Global, I feel that the tools I have acquired from the experience will allow me to succeed in the world of business in the future.
Nivedha Ram is a junior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. She enjoys reading and writing immensely, and is the assistant editor of Window Seat, her school's literature magazine, and Idiosyncrasy, her school's cultural magazine. She also has a passion for science, and is part of her school's Science Team and Academic Decathlon team. She also enjoys Indian classical singing, dancing, as well as playing piano in her free time. She can be contacted at email@example.com.