Within the span of one year, Paris Prince a FAU High School senior, a junior in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, won $19,500 in funding from three competitions, made connections with organizations like the United Nations Children’s Fund agency (UNICEF), and launched a startup business through FAU Tech Runway’s venture program — all while tackling final exams at the same time. “It was feasible, but it wasn’t easy,” Prince said.
Prince won first-place in the 2021 FAU Wave Competition, second-place in FAU College of Business' 2021 Business Plan Competition and first place for the Florida League of Cities' 2021 MuniMod Competition, with her innovative student project and startup business called SPods, a portable, eco-friendly, hand hygienic product.
“All of the prize money will go into manufacturing SPods,” Prince said. “I am currently working with manufacturers to produce the first prototype and plans are being made to have the first product ready in the near future.”
Since winning the FAU Wave Competition back in 2020, Prince has improved SPods’ design changing from a capsule that contains hand sanitizer into a dissolvable water and soap capsule that allows users to wash their hands. Prince said that after consulting with health organizations like UNICEF, she wanted to redesign the pod to ensure a better hand hygiene solution for those without an external water supply. This change in concept helped her succeed in all competitions.
“Paris was always trying to figure out how to make this work, she never gave up and kept changing her formula,” said Regina Thompson, strategic and economic initiatives manager at FAU. “At first, she had no idea what her innovation would be and now look at her! I am so proud of her taking a leap of faith and trying something new.”
After speaking with a firefighter, during the Munimod Competition , Florida’s civic technology statewide competition focused on city solutions, Prince realized SPods could be helpful for first-responders out in the field. There are many potential opportunities to branch out into different applications with the SPods product, she said.
“Paris has greatly benefited by her participation in the FAU Tech Runway mentor program,” Scott Barlass said, FAU Tech Runway lead mentor. “Her dedicated team of mentors has helped her navigate the many challenges of beginning with an idea and moving the idea forward towards commercialization. Paris' success is predominantly due to her desire to learn, propensity to ask questions without fear, her discipline and completion drive and her strong moral character. I fully expect that by this time next year, Paris will be successfully focused both on medical school and the continued development of SPods.”
As Prince continues to grow her startup, she wanted to provide a word of advice for new founders. “One thing I learned over time is to not be afraid of public speaking,” she said. “Don’t feel bad about not being a good speaker—just do it and you’ll get better.”