Last summer, Staten Island high school students had the opportunity to hone their business and technology skills by participating in the Summer High School Entrepreneur Start-Up Camp, thanks to generous funding from AT&T.
This is the third consecutive year that CSI Workforce Development and Innovation has received funding from AT&T to create and offer STEM programs for high school students. These programs expose students to emerging technologies allowing them to learn about and explore potential technology career paths. This collaboration was fostered by Jason Razefsky, Chief of Staff for Borough President James Oddo.
This year, CSI held a three-week Entrepreneur Start-Up Camp for high school students, which allowed them to simulate the process of creating a start-up venture after they identified a market need, leading to the creation of a product to provide an innovative tech solution.
During the three-week Camp, the students learned to develop a business model; perform user/market research, user interface product design, and usability testing; and create a pitch deck as well as other meaningful product design strategies. Students learned how to construct a start-up from product ideation to execution.
The program ended on September 15 with a culminating competition in which the students pitched their products, “shark tank” style, to a panel of distinguished judges comprised of Tom Tellefsen, Chair of the Marketing Department, School of Business, CSI; Joe Bottega, Business Advisor, SBDC; Robin White, Area Manager for External Affairs, AT&T; and Georgina Castanon, CEO, Walk and Explore.
The winning team at the competition was Naleer Security, which addressed a concerning issue facing Staten Island parents–keeping their children safe from high-risk, crime and drug areas. Naleer developed a mobile app with a cell phone-based family hub that pinpoints a child’s (or any other family member’s) location and denotes his or her proximity to high-crime and drug-distribution/usage areas on Staten Island. With the priority of providing safety for a child or young adult when parents are not around, the Naleer Security app, among other features, proposes alternate travel routes and suggests a more “safe zone” for the child to travel. In short, it’s a practical solution to keeping children safe when parents are not with them.
Naleer will receive consultation services from the Staten Island Small Business Development Center and the CSI Tech Incubator, as well as Amazon gift cards.
Ken Iwama, Vice President of Economic Development and Continuing Studies, told the students that their “participation in the Camp put them in the rarified company of many innovation icons, those who were blessed with the entrepreneurial spirit that helped build our great nation.”
As for AT&T’s commitment to the Camp, Marissa Shorenstein, President, Northeast Region, AT&T, stated that “Technology has improved our lives in so many ways – here at AT&T, we are constantly thinking of new ways in which tech can be innovatively used to better serve our customers. That’s why it’s great to see the students in this year’s Entrepreneur Start-Up Camp also pushing the limits of how we use technology today to develop and pitch their own start-up ideas,” said. “We hope that this summer’s experiences will inspire these students to continue to dream, create, and code throughout college and their careers.”