The Newark-based Institute for Entrepreneural Leadership (IFEL) this week recognized the winners of the 2021 I3 Competition, a technology and innovation event created by students at a Connecticut high school that connects students with business owners to help solve real-world business challenges.
Recognizing the difficulties small business owners face converting to e-commerce and driving sales through online channels, the South Asian Heritage Club at Greenwich High School created the competition as a way for students to use their technology skills to help small businesses. Organizers partnered with IFEL to leverage the nonprofit’s long history with pitch competitions and small business.
IFEL matched the high school student teams with business owners led by Black entrepreneurs from the IFEL community. Student teams had roughly two months to meet with the business, implement their solutions, and evaluate the impact of their problem-solving skills on the business.
“IFEL was very excited to be part of this innovative initiative to engage students in solving problems that impact their communities,” said IFEL Co-founder & CEO Jill Johnson. “The level of sophistication and ingenuity displayed by the students was impressive and inspirational.”
Greenwich High School students Sofia Krause, Devan Fauser and Field Ogilvy won the top prize of $1,000 for creating social media videos on TikTok and Instagram for Ebaata Skincare, an organic skincare brand based in New York City.
Ebaata Skincare CEO Phumelele Kunene said she worked collaboratively with the winning team on thematic planning for videos.
“The students edited the videos and posted them on TikTok,” Kunene said. “I now view TikTok as easy. This was a great experience and benefit to my company, and I’m thrilled my team won.”
Younger students in Greenwich, Connecticut Public School District also had the opportunity to participate in the I3 competition. The winning Eastern Middle School team of Brooke Cumberland, YeonWoo Kook, Charlotte Marcussen and Isabelle Heflin claimed a $250 prize for their concept pitch on free self-care service for teenagers.
This year’s competition was coordinated by Greenwich High School’s South Asian Heritage Club co-presidents, Aarya Dhru and Veda Swaminathan.