We periodically check-in with Lehigh Valley LaunchBox grant recipients to ask how their business or product development is coming along, hear the advice they have for other entrepreneurs, and see how they have benefited from the microgrants, support and mentorship from Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.
Kedar Narayan is a 10-year-old entrepreneur who runs heartforwildlife.com and the company SaiGuru, LLC. He received a microgrant from Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.
- What inspired you to start your business?
"I really loved nature and crafts at a young age, and when I found out what the pollinators were a couple summers ago and how they were going into decline, I knew I had to do something about it.
I first created an app that educates the public about who the pollinators are and how we can make pollinator-friendly gardens, and published it to Google play for free, but I knew I could do more to help. I started my very first business combining my love for nature and crafts to educate the public about environment-friendly choices. My company offers 'DIY Keepsake kits' made from recycled t-shirts to create a variety of fun crafts."
- What was your biggest challenge before receiving a Lehigh Valley LaunchBox portfolio grant, and how did you overcome it with the help of your grant?
"Like most new businesses, marketing and getting the word out to our niche audience is our number one challenge. I used the grant to produce a creative stop motion video about my products, and I'm still motivated to make that video viral today."
- What Lehigh Valley LaunchBox services have you taken advantage of since receiving your grant?
"I really love the opportunities to meet people and get help from mentors. I am very grateful to have many mentors through LaunchBox who have given me generously of their time, encouragement and good advice when we need it. We were able to utilize Penn State’s legal services, receive help with media lists, opportunities to meet interesting entrepreneurs and showcase my business at cool events."
- How do you define success?
"To be honest, starting a business makes you feel very humble, because you must work very hard and fail often before you achieve your goals. For me, success is not tied to outcomes alone. It’s about everything I learn from achieving my goals. I love to analyze what worked and what did not work for me and create new strategies to work on my challenge differently.
Challenges motivate me to persist and compete. Like when my one of my YouTube videos gets more likes than my previous ones, because I used a different strategy on it. Gold mine! Now, I will revisit my old content and use the strategies for the new ones too. Things that I cannot learn from a book, but I can figure out through many rounds of experimentation! Sort of like a video game, but much better because it helps me realize some goals.
I feel best when I out do myself! I realized when I did competitions, I felt bad either way – when I won, I was filled with guilt for those who did not win. When I lost, I felt sad I didn’t do better."
- What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are requesting a Lehigh Valley LaunchBox portfolio grant? Or, more generally, as they start their businesses?
"LaunchBox portfolio grants are more than grants. They offer an invaluable support system which is difficult to quantify and makes a big difference in making a start-up successful.
Dream Big. Break down your dreams into smaller projects/goals. Learn deeply by completing these projects to achieve your dreams. I want to build an invention company when I grow up. I am learning many aspects of starting a business by working on heartforwildlife.com now.
Starting a business takes a ton of hard work, time and dedication. Things are not going to work out when it's your first time, so stick to what you're doing and keep your goals in front of you. Don't get disheartened, simply keep learning from your experiences and keep trying ideas until something works.
If you are introducing a new product in the market, it is extremely important to niche down your audience in detail. Attend events that are most relevant to your business.
If you don’t love what you do, don’t expect your business to be successful.
Nothing slows you down like laziness. Be firm! Order yourself out of your comfort zone.
Have a creative outlet, like I like to make crazy loud stories, in the shower."
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative. For more information, visit the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox website, email [email protected] or email Elaine Thode at [email protected].