When she isn’t dancing competitively, 14-year-old Alaya Scott of Silver Spring spends some of her time thinking about others. This 10th grader from James Hubert Blake High School was part of a team that won the top prize of “Best Business Model” at an entrepreneurship pitch competition as part of the Social Entrepreneurship Program taught by University Startups. The goal of the program was to come up with a business idea that solves a social or environmental problem and then sell the idea to judges. Alaya and her team focused their business on helping the homeless and unemployed population. The business? "FIND MY NEEDS".
Imagine a mobile unit that goes to lower-income areas and has volunteers that help unemployed and homeless people find resources for everyday living. "I think we won because with our presentation we tried to help the audience understand that homelessness is huge in the United States and helping the homeless will elevate all of us, plus it tugs at your heart and opens your eyes to their struggles,” says Alaya Scott. The mobile truck would have touch screen computers and advisors on board to share technology and answer questions about job searches, shelters, and other needs. It would also have free cell phones so the community members could make calls to loved ones. Healthy food and drinks would be handed out to make the mobile unit a welcoming place to stop by.
Alaya, who is planning on starting a dance team at her high school, wants to be an entrepreneur and loved the University Startups program. "I signed up because I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand and learn more about entrepreneurship since I want to own my own company one day. The mentors were great. Each day we had a module to complete and had to come up with an idea and then get customer reactions for the business we were trying to create. It was a great way to learn all aspects of starting a business that solves problems in our community,” says Alaya Scott. Alaya says the mobile truck would be the perfect way to get resources to people who don’t have access to technology or can’t get around very easily.
“This class taught me a lot of things that raise my business skills and showed me I could launch a company step by step and at a young age. You don’t have to be an adult to start a business,” says Alaya Scott. “I am trying to look for some sponsors and look for other businesses to team up with for FIND MY NEEDS,” she says.
This program was made possible by American Gene Technologies, the Universities at Shady Grove, and the Blair Foundation.
About University Startups: Founded in 2020, University Startups is committed to creating opportunities for students and lifelong learners to expand their worlds beyond a traditional curriculum. The organization empowers students by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, which helps students to think creatively and find ways to translate their passions into real-world experiences. Whether students want to start a business, attend college, or find a job, University Startups uses proprietary instructional courses and groundbreaking technologies to get them there. All classes are designed by expert instructors from top-tier universities.