(Photo courtesy of University of Delaware)
Shreyas Parab is 14 years old — or, as he put it, “not too young to be an entrepreneur.”
He’s not lying. The Archmere Academy freshman already owns and operates a novelty tie company called NovelTie (get it?) through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. On top of that, Parab is in the process of launching an education nonprofit that he hopes will empower low-income students in Wilmington. He’s even given a TEDx talk on mankind’s innate ability to do incredible things.
Oh, and he also dabbles in software. And by “dabbles,” we mean Parab and his business partner, 15-year-old Sriram Hathwar from Corning, N.Y., just won an international pitch competition with their spelling bee app.
Parab and Hathwar raked in a cool $7,500 when their app Spell for Success placed first in the Diamond Challenge finals last week. The competition, a leg of the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit, is organized by the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship.
This year, over 40 teams of high school entrepreneurs hailing from the far reaches of the mid-Atlantic region (as well as five foreign countries) were pitted against each other in three separate rounds of pitches. The prize money either goes towards development or higher education.
“The Diamond Challenge was something that is definitely going to impact what Spell for Success can be and what it will be,” said Parab. In addition to supplying video content and spelling guides, Spell for Success’ drag and drop functions would allow users to interact with the words they’re learning to spell.
According to Parab, the idea for the app was conceived when he and Hathwar were competing at the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year, where Hathwar was declared co-champion. (It was the first tie in 52 years. Hathwar is also a MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee champion).
“There was no study tool out there that we think was effective,” Parab said. “We found a problem that was left unaddressed, we had the desire to solve that problem, and now we have the resources and mentorship to launch our idea into reality.”
Parab, who refers to his enterprising habit as “accidental,” said he never chose to become an entrepreneur. Rather, entrepreneurship chose him.
“I decided to do things that I thought were cool and interesting,” he said. “I decided to do something that made me cool with my friends and even the ladies. Turns out that the cool stuff I was doing was called ‘entrepreneurship.'”