Siona Wadhwan, Sankia Gupta, Ritika Managudi, and Diya Mishra won the TYE Seattle annual competition for their startup service Volunticity. Courtesy Photo

Siona Wadhwan, Sankia Gupta, Ritika Managudi, and Diya Mishra won the TYE Seattle annual competition for their startup service Volunticity. Courtesy Photo

Volunteer connection service wins student start-up award

High school students compete with start up business ideas.

Taking a business idea off the page and putting it into practice is challenging, but high school students in Bellevue and around the region are getting the opportunity to try it themselves.

The TiE Young Entrepreneur (TYE) program is geared toward high school students exploring the creation of a product and the steps to start a business in order to make that product a reality.

Vinita Ananth, TYE Seattle program chair, said the program is part of an initiative to foster entrepreneurship in teenagers by teaching what it takes to run a business. The eight-month program begins with four months of classroom instruction where students learn the fundamentals of building a startup and ends with four months of hands-on project work building a product or service and pitching it as a startup company.

In the hands-on development stage, each group works with a mentor from the local business community to help answer questions and provide support for each step of the process. Students plan marketing, product validation, prototyping and final production.

The class ends with the annual regional competition between each of the student groups. On Sunday, April 28, the Seattle Chapter of TYE held its annual regional competition where students presented their products or services and the work they have done to bring it to reality.

This year’s winners were team Volunticity, a nonprofit whose online service connects high school students with volunteer opportunities in their local communities. Team members Siona Wadhwan, Sankia Gupta, Ritika Managudi and Diya Mishra won the competition and earned a prize of $2,500.

Gupta, a Bellevue resident and sophomore at Eastside Preparatory School, explained the process behind the development of Volunticity

Finding volunteer work in areas that students are interested in can be difficult, the team found, so the goal was to create a service that would allow an individual to search for volunteer opportunities based on their interests such as arts, athletics, animals or the environment.

“In order to validate the service, we went to four different schools and asked 80 students,” she said. “92 percent said that (finding a volunteer opportunity) was a problem for them.”

The team’s website, www.volunticity.org, has an inquiry form where students can fill out their interests, location and age, and within 24 hours they will receive an email with a list of volunteer opportunities.

By winning the TYE Seattle event, Volunticity can participate at the TYE Global competition this June.

According to Ananth, the program is open to all high school students. The TYE Seattle program leadership is currently discussing plans to expand the program to accommodate more students for the next session of classes beginning in September 2019.

For more information on the TYE program, go online to seattle.tie.org/tye.

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