The second annual crash course in entrepreneurship, courtesy of Branksome Hall’s Noodle Pitch Competition, came to a close this week. In just 38 weeks, four student teams built a company from the ground up, complete with online shops and revenue—no small feat.
… and, this year’s winning venture is Happiness Battery.
If “sadness is a vast deep lake, [this app] is like building a boat to take you across that lake,” said Grade 12 students Ore, Parker and Miranda, in their squad’s five-minute pitch, filmed and performed for alum judges and entrepreneurs Sarah DAVIES’09 and Lisa Simone-RICHARDS’02, November 6. Their big win, which included a $10,000 grand prize in seed money made possible by Mary LESSLIE Hallward'74, was announced in the Senior and Middle School Assembly, November 29.
“I know I’ll take what I learned, throughout almost one year of Noodle, with me for the rest of my life,” says Miranda. “I know it was definitely a tough decision because all the other teams also put in so much dedication and passion into their companies.”
Targeting a dearth of well-being apps for the teen and young adult market, Happiness Battery’s app is intended to boost one’s daily production of feel-good chemicals including dopamine, with daily challenges, a podcast where inspiring “peace of mind” stories are shared, and a shop for retail therapy. Learning the ropes of actual company building, they enticed 1,200 followers on TikTok and Instagram combined, employed product testers and developed strategies around pricing, markets and partnerships. They intend to use their seed money to finance app development, possibly a book and more.
“It's incredible to see the level of mentorship, dedication and aspiration that these students have, on top of crushing it in the classroom,” says Simone-Richards, a public relations consultant and visibility strategist who credits Branksome for honing her entrepreneurial verve. "It's great to see the school continuing to create new ways to foster creativity and idea realization."
Part of her role is to help clients gain visibility online, although she recognizes social media is a double-edged sword. This is an issue Ore, Parker and Miranda have addressed.
"Many of us are guilty of being on our phones constantly and a lot of that time can be spent peeking into other people's lives online,” she says. “It's no secret that can leave us feeling a certain type of way. Happiness Battery is a timely solution to recharging our mental health during the age of social media.”
Likewise, other solutions to well-being related issues, along with waste-stream management, were top of mind for the other companies. Grade 11 students Rachel and Seungmyoung pitched Pedestal, an online planning tool with many bonus features to supercharge motivation and well-being. Informed by cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness research, users benefit from access to 15 templates and a community of fellow Pedestal users.
At Gaia Cases, Emily, Nia and Fatima’s mission was to “change the phone case market” with 19 biodegradable case designs made of sawdust, rice, soybeans and other materials that aren’t plastic. They’ve already promoted their wares to their peer demographic, notably at Earth Day. And, with Serein, Grade 12 students Yuna and Faith aimed to promote self-love and growth through aromatherapy-based candles, incorporating a subscription service, brand ambassadors and media partnerships.
Faculty advisors Donn Pasiliao, Technology Experience Designer and Coordinator, and Heather McDonald, Senior and Middle School Business Specialist, Noodle; Business Studies Teacher, are amazed at what the students accomplished in such short order.
“This experience hopefully gave them a preview of what forms a business as whole,” says Pasiliao, “including developing and manufacturing the product itself and assessing the landscape or their industry.”
The final pitch videos illustrate the professionalism, expectations and expertise this year’s cohort has developed. And, most importantly, the issues they explored and the process of solution creation is widely applicable for post-secondary and career opportunities.
Each of the teams demonstrated an incredible level of professionalism, knowledge, innovation and drive—an awareness of what's going on in the world around them,” says McDonald. “There's no doubt that they will continue to create and inspire positive change."