Teens
September 13, 2023

How this high school student got into business with a $200M company

Author
Lindsey Schiller
Growth Marketing
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How long do you think it takes to start a business? 

Well, at BETA Camp, we help students to go from idea to product to first sale in just 4 weeks. How? We teach them to see problems as opportunities. We show them problems are everywhere, which means opportunities are everywhere, too — so long as they’re on the lookout.

So when BETA Camp student Isha Anand overheard a family friend talking about their company’s problem, she heard opportunity knocking. She and her team assembled her Minimum Viable Product in just 3 days, and she presented it to the company, with the promise to fulfill orders later. We’ll dive more into Isha’s story below, but first, I wanted to leave you with this:

When you view the world through the lens of entrepreneurship, opportunities are everywhere.

You just have to take out all the excuses stopping you from doing the hard, scary work of putting yourself out there.

Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you:

Isha Anand, a 10th grader, invented a tote bag made from recycled materials that can keep perishable goods cold for 12 hours. The Butcher Shoppe, a $200m company, wants in.

Isha may only be in 10th grade, but she’s already doing things most adults only dream of. She’s proving that you don’t need an MBA or decades of experience to be successful in business. You just need an idea (and a truckload of gumption). And…you need to be willing to pivot.

Before selling to million-dollar companies, Isha wanted to sell to consumers, but she faced reluctance from the market due to her young age. “So I approached it in a new way”, said Isha. Oh and by the way, here’s what Isha has to say to people who don’t take teens seriously:

“When you’re talking to a teen, you’re listening to a voice from the future.”

The future is calling, people — and if a $200m company is wise enough to answer, we all should, too.

Product development 101: From idea to product to first sale

Isha turned a figment of her imagination into something tangible — a product you can see and touch. What alchemy is needed to make this transformation possible? It’s not magic — it’s product development. And Isha told us exactly how she did it:

The first step: ideation.

Ideas don’t always fall into your lap. But sometimes, they do. Isha has been developing products since 8th grade for business and science competitions. She’d already made home insulation from recycled materials, and an environmentally friendly blanket for the homeless:

From trash to treasure: Isha gave single-use plastics another chance at a useful life!

The next step? Brainstorm.

When Isha joined BETA Camp in Summer 2023, she was on the hunt for her next idea. When she overheard her dad on the phone with The Butcher Shoppe’s VP of Sales, she jumped on the opportunity. The company was losing $$$ on meat deliveries that went bad on customers’ doorsteps. And they needed an environmentally friendly solution. Luckily, Isha was a self-made expert on both of those fronts. 

At BETA Camp she got going on launching the next application for her idea, and launched RE-Vive. With the collaboration of her team, the structure of a fast-paced program, and the support of BETA Camp's playbooks and Startup Advisors, she took this idea from 0 to 100 in a matter of weeks. First, she got right to work brainstorming a product for The Butcher Shoppe. 

  • She’d lie awake thinking of how the product would look, how big it would be, and what materials it would be made out of. 
  • Then she’d draw it out, making dozens of different blueprints.
  • She finally landed on the idea of a tote bag made from recycled materials, insulated on all sides. She wanted it to be easy to carry and keep food cold for 12 hours.

Now let’s back up for a second — you should know that at this stage, you’d need to do a lot of research before you’re drafting designs. But Isha already knew so much from her previous products that she was able to build the final tote bag in just 3 days.

Which brings us to the best part — building a prototype.

This is where your dream becomes a reality. Be patient with yourself through this process — your first prototype may not work how you expected it to: “I used iron-on vinyl for the first tote bag, and it burnt through everything,” says Isha. “My fire alarm went off, it was a mess.”

It’s okay — just try again and again until you find what works! And when you do, you’ll have an MVP — a minimum viable product. ⚡

RE-Vive's MVP featuring insulation made from recycled materials — I want one!

And now you’re done *Kidding* — with product dev, you’re never really done. Now you’ll continue to test and iterate your product. It requires going back to the ideation stage and figuring out how you can make it better. At this stage, Isha presented her MVP to the executives at The Butcher Shoppe through BETA Camp's Demo Day practice pitches. She and her team are set to produce 20 bags and if all goes well, she’ll be the company’s official supplier.

So what can we learn from Isha's story?

Lessons & Takeaways

Be ready to pivot

But the process of shedding what’s not essential can be heart wrenching if you’ve grown too attached to one specific idea.It’s what Stephen King, who has published over 65 novels, meant when he said, “Kill your darlings” — that is, deleting the stuff that doesn’t work anymore feels a little like murdering a loved one. Do your best not to get too attached to any one idea.

“You’ll never end up with the idea you started with,” says Isha.

Each stage will prepare you to succeed at the next one. Be willing to pivot, and you’ll always end up with something even better.

To move faster, find mentors

In addition to BETA Camp, Isha entered both science fairs and business competitions. All of these opportunities connected her with experts who helped her learn:

  • How to source materials
  • Where to produce her products
  • How to improve the product viability 

This helped her grow leaps and bounds in a fraction of the time.

Social enterprise is the future

Isha’s business is a social enterprise — that is, a business that is seeking to also benefit the greater good. 

There are about 11m social enterprises worldwide — and the movement is only growing. More and more consumers are choosing to vote with their dollar, spending money on brands that share their values. In fact, over 70% of consumers want to know what brands are doing to address social and environmental issues, according to this report by Certus. Isha has already seen how beneficial it’s been to make her products from recycled materials — it’s one of the major reasons why The Butcher Shoppe decided to use her bag.

And it’s why we believe there is no reason to wait to graduate college to start solving real world problems and putting your ideas into action.

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