Startups
Entrepreneurs / Universities

From housing insecurity to student stress, youth entrepreneurs tackled big problems with Towson U’s support

Students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School who participated in the university’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program pitched their ideas during a recent event at StarTUp at the Armory.

Members of the Towson University Youth Entrepreneurship Program present their venture. (Courtesy photo by Mikey Mullen)

This editorial article is a part of Universities Month 2023 in Technical.ly’s editorial calendar.

Earlier this month, bright young minds from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (CRJHS) left the school’s Upper Fells Point neighborhood to visit Towson University’s (TU) StarTUp at the Armory. But a rudimentary college tour this was not.

Instead, these students came to present their innovative business ideas as part of the Towson University Youth Entrepreneurship Program. This event served to inspire the participant ninth graders to develop their aspirations in startups and small businesses by showcasing theoretical ventures with potential real-world impact. It also came at the end of the program’s roughly month-long structure.

For four weeks every Wednesday, CRJHS ninth graders worked according to a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship and venture creation. Nico Boone, StarTUp at the Armory’s entrepreneurship coordinator, noted that the structure involves having students conduct requisite research and statistical analysis to develop practical solutions to real-world problems.

They visited TU’s campus for two of those weeks and even got to access the dining halls. On the first day, they formed groups and began working on their ventures with the aid of TU student interns.

Patrick McQuown, TU’s director of entrepreneurship, praised the students’ enthusiasm for the program and eagerness to start working on their ventures from day one. The pitch session on March 8 was the culmination of their hard work.

Some of the CRJHS student entrepreneurs shared their reflections on what the day and program meant to them in this video:

Two of the featured participants, Daijon and Cruz, shared additional reflections on their ventures and what the experience meant to them:

Daijon smiles in charcoal hoodie with yellow and green text before wall with white and charcoal text

Daijon. (Courtesy photo by Nico Boone)

Daijon

“My project, DPYJ Backpacks, is something I came up with the idea of and everybody else on my team pitched in on. We focused on the issue of heavy backpacks among high schoolers. Our solution was to create backpacks with a built-in support system, including support straps and compartments for different uses. Our company takes its name from the first initials of everyone involved in the idea. Our goal is to provide backpacks that alleviate physical and mental health concerns and promote user comfort. In addition to these features, our backpacks also come with added functionality.

“During my time at StarTUp, I learned that entrepreneurship takes dedication and time. Rushing into it might cause things not to come together as you’d like. Although I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur, I see myself as someone who supports my friends who want to become entrepreneurs. I’m willing to offer my support in any way I can.”

Cruz smiles in charcoal puffer jacket in front of white wall with charcoal and gold text.

Cruz. (Courtesy photo by Nico Boone)

Cruz

“Over the past four weeks, my group and I came up with a business idea called Electro. Essentially, it’s a third-party company where if you break your phone, you can give it to us. We then run diagnostic testing on it to see which parts we can salvage and reuse or sell. Once you give us your phone, you can either get money back or we’ll give you a refurbished phone to use while you wait for your new phone to arrive or to get it fixed.

“I don’t think entrepreneurship is easy, but having a team can make the process much easier, especially when everyone puts their money together. Participating in the program at Towson was a great experience that some kids may not have the opportunity to have due to their circumstances.”

Here’s the full list of the ventures and the TU student interns that supported them:

  • Electro-Sell: A 3rd-party company that takes damaged phones and scraps them for parts in exchange for cash. Supported by Fayo Eboda, junior, business systems and processes major
  • DPYJ Backpacks: A company focused on reinforced backpacks with extra support and comfort for younger students. Supported by Maria Lopez, junior, sociology major; and Theo Appiah, sophomore, business administration major
  • Homeless Helpers: A company providing affordable rental housing for homeless individuals in Baltimore. Supported by Damia Coles, sophomore, dance major; and Kwadwo Boadi, senior, business systems and processes major
Companies: Towson University
Series: Universities Month 2023
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