Paris Prince is starting her senior year at FAU High School. The teen is also part of the next venture class program at FAU‘s Tech Runway where she’s turning her “s-pod” idea into a start-up company that she hopes will help change the world.
Prince’s idea for s-pods, which are portable, eco-friendly, hygienic products that provide a sustainable hand sanitation solution, stems from her passion to address the United Nations Foundation’s efforts to address global challenges such as clean water, sanitization, reduced inequalities and good health.
The s-pod, “could be applicable to various organizations including the United Nations Children’s Fund agency, UNICEF, a humanitarian and developmental aid organization that assists children worldwide and emergency disaster response teams,” she said.
Prince’s journey began in the fall of 2019, when she was introduced to the Division of Research’s FAU Wave competition, a platform for students to create innovative ideas by targeting societal problems. Each participant was provided seed funding and internal FAU support. Her s-pod idea won first place.
In an effort to maintain traction, she applied to join FAU’s Tech Runway venture class program. After multiple judging rounds, including an in-person pitch to a panel of industry experts, Prince and s-pods were officially accepted to become part of the venture class 8 cohort for Tech Runway’s year-long program.
Her passion and drive to provide convenience and portability of a better hygiene solution without increasing world pollution to less developed countries solidified her a slot in the new class.
“Not only will s-pods help decrease pollution rates and disposal effort, but will also provide more time for children to learn in school due to a reduction in preventable diseases,” she said.
Since starting the FAU Tech Runway program in July, Prince has taken steps to turn her idea into a full-fledged business, including participating in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, created to help researchers learn about entrepreneurship. This connected Prince with prospective customers throughout the world, including the supply and procurement specialists of the United Nations Children’s Fund.
She has also been provided with a dedicated team of six mentors with industry and functional expertise to take her company from concept to reality. One of those experts is her lead mentor, Scott Barlass, co-founder of the Axiom Group, a company that focuses on helping clients with innovation. She said Barlass taught her that everyone has the capacity to be a creative person and to embrace cognitive problem solving with a disciplined thinking process to find real solutions.
“Everyone at Tech Runway has been great with communicating and connecting me with people in the program that help me grow my startup,” Prince said. “Tech Runway has been amazing to work with during this time.”
In addition to I-Corps and her mentor team, Prince receives educational training through the monthly Entrepreneurs’ XChange, funds for interns, introductions to industry professionals, access to investors and capital raising opportunities and more – all free of charge.
“In just one year, my idea started as just a concept and is now growing exponentially into a prospective startup company,” Prince said.