Virginia DECA Members Win $10,000 Investment for Their Company: Grow Greenly LLC
It was all or nothing.
The group of four Virginia DECA members had made their pitch for a business they started, Grow Greenly LLC, at the 2018 IncubatorEdu National Pitch Competition on July 18th in Chicago, Illinois. The winning teams were about to be announced, and the only thing left to do was to wait. Only two teams could win, and one team had already acquired investment money.
“They announced the other team first, so we knew there was only one other team that was going to get an investment,” Grow Greenly team member, Pranavi Karnati said, “We were all holding hands, and we were very nervous because we knew the competition had been tough. When they announced our name, we were all just so excited!”
IncubatorEdu is a nation-wide program that provides high school students with a realistic entrepreneurship experience aimed at developing new startup businesses. Student teams are tasked with the challenge of developing their own product or service that solves a problem. The program teaches students how to develop their idea from concept to reality in a learning-incubator environment designed to mimic a real corporate environment.
As a winner of the competition, Grow Greenly received $10,000 in seed money to grow their business. In addition, each team member also received a $10,000 scholarship offer to Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, if they decide to attend.
The Grow Greenly team, comprised of Grace Maloney, Pranavi Karnati, Vrushti Joshi, and Azrin Rahman earned the nomination to compete in Chicago by winning a 12-team competition back in May in Washington, D.C.
The rising juniors had developed biodegradable plant pots that are planted directly into the ground. The plant pots were designed and engineered by the team and are currently being produced in team member Joshi’s basement. The idea was originally conceived because “there are currently 6.3 billion tons of plastic in landfills. We knew this had to change,” said team member Azrin Rahman. Grow Greenly’s goal is to reduce plastic pollution in landfills, as well as the need to use harmful chemical fertilizers.
As soon as the team discovered that they were selected to pitch at the national level, the team worked tirelessly to improve their presentation, financials, and speaking skills. Karnati said their presentation went just as they had planned.
“We were very prepared, and we had practiced answering all the questions we thought we would be asked,” she said. “I think what really made our business stand out was how invested we all were.” Grow Greenly member Karnati also discussed how her experience in DECA helped her during the pitch. “I have been a member of DECA for the past two years, and it has made me more confident in my ability to speak publicly.” Grow Greenly co-founder and DECA member Vrushti Joshi, also commented that she felt more prepared due to her experience in competing at DECA competitions.
“Our mentor, Ms. Smidt, is a former DECA advisor, and she has access to an extensive network of subject matter experts. She helped us by providing guidelines and support,” said Joshi. “She was sitting in the front row, and I think she started tearing up when our company name was announced. She was so happy to see how far our group had come since our very first pitch.”
Grow Greenly’s product has already been issued a provisional patent and is receiving multiple orders from the community. Grow Greenly will be selling their biodegradable plant pots at the Herndon Nature Fest in September. As part of their business plan, Karnati responded that the company’s next step will be to find a space to increase production.
To learn more about Grow Greenly LLC, visit the company’s website: www.growgreenlyllc.com