Hi, I’m Erika, a 17 year old “senior” in high school (it’s complicated), and I attended two weeks of Epiic Solutions 2017 summer programs. My experiences with Blake and Crystal were amazing and I met so many people during those two weeks that I know have changed who I am.
My Epiic Solutions Summer 2017 Story:
The truth is, I didn’t exactly want to go. I am looking at colleges and still debating on if I want to major in business or engineering. One business school in particular, Babson, is entrepreneur-oriented. If you do some research online you discover that you have a much better chance of getting into the school if you have attended some kind of business camp. Realizing this around May, I began searching for camps still accepting students. After extensive online research, I found Epiic Solutions.
STEAM Startups: My First Epiic Solutions Experience
My first Epiic Solutions program was a STEAM week with a dozen other students. Everyone was very bright, one was even a reality TV star and another was from Sweden!
Epiic Solutions is all about exploring a problem, developing a startup idea to address this problem, and pitching it by Friday afternoon. NBD. Camp started by talking about the problem and exploring different kinds of problems that exist. To validate our ideas, we had to go out and interview strangers on the street to (awkward!), hear their opinion about what we think are problems. If the feedback is good and reinforces that, yes indeed this is a problem, a team knew they were on a good path. If not, the smart teams changed plans (aka pivot to sound like a fancy entrepreneur).
After digging into the problem, we began to explore potential solutions to the problem, how to market it, if it even is marketable. Who is the customer? Who is the client? How will you make money? How will you last in 3 years? So many questions!
What did I come up with? That week I partnered with Chidubem, an 18 year old senior who was about a foot taller than me. Our problem was teen depression and anxiety and our solution was a mirror. The mirror would have positive quotes on the top that would help users have more positive feelings. When seeing themselves they would hopefully subconsciously associate those positive feelings to their own body image. The mirror would also have a nature mode where it would shuffle through pictures of nature around the world. In our research we uncovered lots of studies showing that nature helps with depression. Resolution, our mirror of the future, would give people their own personal space and it could be used in home, school, office, even hospital.
Chidubem and I worked well with each other and in the pitch competition we got a close second place. We had an idea and adjusted a few things here and there, but in general, kept pretty close to our original idea.
Free-Style Startups: My Second Go-Round
A few weeks later, I came back for a second Epiic Solutions program, the Free-Style week. This time I worked alone, not something Blake wanted to allow but eventually caved on due to my constant begging. My problem started off as homelessness and food waste. I thought of adding a small fridge on top of trashcans to allow people to share food but after finding complications with that problem I switched. I probably changed my idea at least 5 times (a benefit, and challenge, or being a one-woman team). In the end I developed a volunteering camp for kids ages 9-14. There are many studies showing how volunteering at a younger age helps the mental growth of kids. This would be a summer camp where in the afternoon kids would go help volunteer at different local organizations to help out however they could. Trust me, I pitched it better than that and somehow I won first place!
I loved the the pitch competitions! I loved the hands on experience we had and the feedback the amazing judges gave us. I learned a lot about how difficult it is to make a startup and how to pitch an idea in the morning workshops.
Field Trips: My Favorite Part of Epiic Solutions
The thing that makes Epiic Solutions a really great program are the afternoon field trips. We went all over Boston and talked with actual companies that have a hand in the startup world. I live in the suburbs around Boston but never really spent much time exploring the city, especially not on my own. This was a new experience for me. Epiic Solutions opened my eyes to what a beautiful city Boston is, and just how much is going on!
Draper: How Blake got connections to this place is unknown but we needed a photo ID to go in (I don’t think I've ever been to an area with this kind of security. Well, maybe the airport.) Draper invests in Tech companies that are working on very cool projects my 17 year old brain could not comprehend. But what stood out to me was not the products being made there but the atmosphere - it was a place with highly intellectual people passionate and driven for what they were doing. It felt powerful! The people at Draper were experts and knew what they were doing. I can tell that they will continue working until they succeed.
Boston Public Market: This place is for food entrepreneurs who rent out a small space to sell their products. The atmosphere is filled with the love and hard work. There are many vendors working with each other to try their hardest to sell their products. I found these people to be very charismatic and determined. Many were working on their own and relying on the community of other food entrepreneurs for help. Boston Public Market is a very welcoming location, and if you are in Boston, I would recommend you check it out. Plus there are lots of yummy samples!
Tuan Ho: This is an entrepreneur we met, not a company or location (just wanted to clear that up first.) Tuan is part of a startup called ScholarJet, trying to help students get scholarships not by writing essays but by doing their passions. The reason why I’m adding him to this list is because as a joke I asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” and got a pretty eye opening responses, “Life is what you make it to be.” A simple response that really opened my eyes. Definitely something to think about.