Before attending Boston College, junior Sofia Papastamelos had never heard of anyone having to apply to do community service. “We have so many people who want to help out,” she said. Tie that social consciousness in with the College’s already strong Carroll School of Management, and a social entrepreneurship competition only made sense.
This semester, Papastamelos helped found BC Seed, which held its first competition last night, awarding $1,000 to one socially responsible startup looking to get off the ground. Working in conjunction with the Boston College Venture Competition (BCVC), BC Seed gave three student-run teams the chance to pitch for 15 minutes to a panel of judges who had a different criteria in mind.
Although Namib Beetle Design — a biomimicry-inspired product based on the Namib Desert Beetle that uses nanotechnology to trap water from condensation to produce a sustainable method of collecting clean drinking water — won this year’s BCVC, they did not win BC Seed.
Instead, third place BCVC winner, Maji, took home the $1,000 grand prize at BC Seed. “The Maji team was able to clearly pitch their social impact,” Papastamelos said. Although the judges still looked at each team’s business plan, she admitted it didn’t play as large of a role.
Standing for “water” in Swahili, Maji is a reusable water bottle company working to solve the world’s water crisis. For every bottle sold, Maji makes a $5 donation to charity: water. With that money, charity: water then provides wells for people who do not have access to clean drinking water.
The team was winner of the “Audience Choice Award” at BCVC’s Elevator Pitch Contest, and has since begun spreading their message to other campuses, including the University of Richmond and New York University.
How BC Seed will integrate with BCVC in the future, Papastamelos said they’re still trying to iron out the details. All we know, however, is that Boston College is quickly becoming an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with.
Photo Courtesy of John Gallaugher