Return to Headlines

Students Innovate Change Through New "Edventurist" Program

August 16, 2017
By Jessica Lin, RHS Class of 2017

Students Innovate Change Through New "Edventurist" Program

Kamran Kara-Pabani and Alex Leonardi In an imperfect world, innovation is key to driving society forward. When identifying the impetus for entrepreneurial change, one might think of big businesses and renowned companies, headed by powerful CEOs with years of experience.

During the 2016-17 school year, 16 Radnor High School students proved that the voice of change is young through their outstanding efforts participating in the new, six-week long EdVenturist Student Entrepreneurship Program, sponsored by the Radnor Alumni Council with a grant from the Radnor Educational Foundation and supported by Radnor Township School District.

Students met at RHS three days a week to work on developing their own product concepts and, with original ideas in mind, worked with a mentoring staff comprised of RHS teachers and parents while procuring knowledge on the seemingly esoteric entrepreneurial process.

The debut of Radnor’s Venture Incubator this year yielded success, as Sheldon Ennis; Gabby Shapiro; partners Kamran Kara-Pabani and Alex Leonardi; and the team of Bobby Amarant, Zach Elkins, and Jake Fortay presented ideas innovative enough to secure invitations to the World Series of Entrepreneurship in May 2017.

“There’s nothing more valuable than individuals who can identify problems and forge solutions, and I think that any student would benefit from being exposed to this skillset,” said Mr. Robert Howard, an entrepreneur who mentored Gabby Shaprio.

According to Mr. Howard, Gabby had entered the program with a primitive design and minimal product pitch for an earring invention called “Oh Snap!,” which sought to address the problem of losing earring backings by keeping the two parts together with magnets. Despite its rudimentary beginnings, Gabby’s idea was creative and innovative, and she had the determination and energy to see it through.

“What started out as two sentences and a cryptic picture ended up being a really compelling presentation that when submitted, earned [Gabby] a finalist position at the World Series of Entrepreneurship,” Mr. Howard said.

Slide from Kamran and Alex's EdVenturist PowerPoint As a further testament to Gabby’s hard work and entrepreneurial development, “Oh Snap!” has received interest from shopping channel QVC and is now in the process of receiving two patents with the assistance of pro-bono legal work from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

Kamran Kara-Pabani, the co-visionary of the personal finance education app “Doubloons,” also had a positive experience participating in the Edventurist program. His app’s target demographic is college students and graduates, among whom the app hopes to help “advance financial literacy.”

After winning admission into the RHS EdVenturist Entrepreneurship Incubator, Doubloons continued on to merit entry into the World Series of Entrepreneurship and earn an Excellence Award. Doubloons has also garnered interest from financial literacy experts at Pennsylvania State University and a Vanguard program.

“I think that the real value in our education is the ability that it can give a student to face a problem in the real world and feel comfortable navigating through it using their problem solving skills,” Kamran said. “The EdVenturist program, in my opinion, can really help a student gain that sense of perspective.”

In addition to the spirit of cooperation, team effort and supportive advisors were essential ingredients to the success of Kamran and his EdVenturist peers.

“The best part of the program is the people that you get to be surrounded with,” Kamran said.

These individuals included Mark Greenberg, the founder of the program; Chris Massaro, of the Radnor Alumni Council; and RHS teacher Michael Hahn, Kamran’s mentor.

Massaro reflected on his role and the program with similar optimism. He stated that the EdVenturist staff aided the students in acknowledging that while failure is inherent in the entrepreneurial process and business world, one must remain open-minded and resilient to attain eventual success.

Kamran and Alex talking to Andy Goldenberg “[The students] learned how to start a product from scratch to presenting it at a competition, and then they got real-world experience and input from people that have done this already in their careers,” Massaro said.

The RTSD School Board has approved the continuation of the EdVenturist program for the 2017-18 school year and prospects of student participation and performance appear bright. For one, the worthwhile lessons and experience Kamran gained during last school year’s EdVenturist season inspired him to pursue a second project, an enterprise parking solution for high schools and universities called “Spaces.” He plans to participate again during the 2017-18 school year, possibly with Spaces as his venture.

Regarding the program’s long-term implications, Mr. Massaro has dreams of Radnor High school eventually embedding EdVenturist into its curriculum as an elective offering. As the EdVenturist program’s second year draws near, Radnor’s student entrepreneurs promise boundless potential for innovating change.

Pictured: Kamran Kara-Pabani and Alex Leonardi (center); A slide from Kamran and Alex’s EdVenturist PowerPoint submission; Kamran and Alex talking to marketing executive Andy Goldenberg in a “speed-mentoring” session