by Andrew Huang ’19, Nate McReynolds ’18
Students Richard Teunis ’17, Andrew Crossman ’17 and Seth McKinney ’20 won $5,000 for their non-profit Gravity House in the Center for Entrepreneurial Learning (CEL) sponsored event, the Social Venture Challenge. According to its website, Gravity House seeks to “show the world that we throw incredible college parties without alcohol.” The finalists presented their proposals in a honorary final round before judges Apr. 20.
The ultimate goal of the trio’s non-profit organization is to change the culture of U.S. college parties. The college party scene, according to the organization’s founders, offers alcohol as the primary mode of engaging with other students. In response to the social and legal consequences alcohol elicitation can potentially create, Gravity House provides a safe and alcohol-free environment for young adults and college students to gather and socialize.
The Social Venture Challenge is similar to other social entrepreneurship competitions, such as the Mass Challenge or Shark Tank. These contests prod entrepreneurs to fill a societal need with their monetary prizes. Contestants are encouraged to find an unorthodox approach that may yield high risks but reap great rewards.
Kwathu Bags was another Gordon Social Venture Challenge contestant and won second place, earning $3,000. This business creates quality backpacks in order to support students in Zambia. David Walczak ’20, Courtney Stoltzfus ’20, and Emily Sheetz ’20 came together to develop a unique backpack made of Zambian fabrics. Initial sales to college students in North America will generate proceeds used to support the Kwathu Community School in Zambia. The company aims to eventually reach the other 3000+ community schools in Zambia that need support.
$2,000 was split between two third-place contestants. The business Jueko Imports, sells animal-themed pillows as a way of raising awareness about endangered species. Cofounders are Jeremiah Northcutt ’19, Kaden Harrell ’19, Kenny Lowell ’19, and Zach Shores ’17. The other third place startup named Colour Book, created a customized-coloring book inspired by the photos customers submit. The coloring books are made to engage Alzheimer’s patients with their families and vice versa. Two sisters founded the business, Naomi Kim ’19 and Claudia Kim ’18.