Anyone who has lost a pet can relate to the panic and worry that comes with missing a furry friend. Luckily, one enterprising Coral Gables High School student has a solution…and $5,000 seed money.
On October 1st Gables High senior Khareem Oliver was awarded first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) LaunchED Challenge for his business “Find or Found,” an innovative app/website that helps pet owners keep tabs on their animals. “It works with a pet tag that has a QR code on it,” explains Oliver, who is currently a student in Gables’ Academy of Finance program. “Every time the QR code is scanned it’ll send the owner a GPS notification via email or text message.”
The students that participated in the LaunchED Challenge were selected from 21 participants in Startup Summer, an intense eight-week teen business incubator organized by NFTE at the Miami Dade College Idea Center for advanced high school entrepreneurs under support from the Citi Foundation. Over the summer, each student received a laptop, $1,000 in seed capital, a $1,000 stipend; as well as intense one-on-one mentoring and support to launch the business. The “Shark Tank”-style event allowed four of those students to pitch their businesses to a panel of entrepreneurs and executives for a chance to win a portion of $11,000 in seed capital to invest in their business.
With his win, Oliver hopes to continue on with the app idea, looking for a developer or potential partner in South Florida to code the smartphone application and website. “’I’m also contacting a manufacturer that can go ahead and start the production of the Smart QR Tags,” he says.
In addition to Oliver, winners from the event (judged by Albert Santalo, Founder of CareCloud and Wifredo Fernandez, Director of CREATE Miami at Miami Dade College among others) included Gabriel Martinez, who won $3,000 for his school supply vending machine business GAMV; Janeiya Henderson who won $1,500 with Pebbles Tutoring; and Justin Rivas who also won $1,500 for his basketball tournament company Top Level Athletics.
Moving on to college, Oliver says his entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, (“I’m always thinking of new ways to innovate, to help others and to make life simple.”) and that his time in the program has given him not only the funds to move forward with his business but the encouragement to keep thinking of the next big idea. Says Oliver, “The biggest lesson that I took away from this summer is if you’re given an opportunity to do something you go ahead and take it!”
Pictured: Gables High senior Khareem Oliver.