A 15-year-old budding entrepreneur held the attention of some of Loudoun County’s sharpest minds this morning.
Mahika Ghaisas, a sophomore at Freedom High School, pitched her business idea at Mason Enterprise Center’s weekly 1 Million Cups meeting. 1 Million Cups is a national program that gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their company proposals to an audience of fellow business leaders, advisors and investors.
Mahika’s company, Sotarily Charming, is working to create wearable technology that combines stylish jewelry options with peace of mind. She is creating bracelets that can alert loved ones and authorities of potential threats and emergencies with a touch of a button.
Mahika came up with the idea after hearing about a growing number of assaults on college campuses. “I didn’t feel like anyone was doing anything about it, so I thought I could try to come up with a solution,” she said. “In an emergency, those first few seconds are critical. You don’t have time to dig for your phone.”
In her six-minute pitch, she told a room of tech executives about how the bracelet would use Bluetooth technology to connect to a person’s phone. When the wearer presses a button on the bracelet, the friend or family member they have identified as their emergency contact would receive a loud alert asking them to call 911. If no emergency contact has been entered into the Sotarily Charming app, the alert would go straight to the nearest 911 call center.
Mahika’s product would have at least one competitor, a European company called Safelet. But Sotarily Charming would be a superior product, she said. “Their bracelets are not cute—they’re not stylish. It gets the job done but that’s the bare minimum.”
Sotarily Charming bracelets are customizable; birth stones or an engraved message can be added.
Plus, she she, Safelet charges $120 for each bracelet, and she could charge between $70 and $80 for hers.
In line with the 1 Million Cups model, Mahika took questions and critiques from those in the audience after her pitch. A few suggested that she design the bracelet’s technology to directly contact the nearest 911 call center, as opposed to a loved one’s cell phone. That would take out the hassle of a third party and help authorities locate the victim faster.
A few others suggested she partner with George Mason University on several levels—to get statistics and input from campus security, to poll parents and students about whether they would purchase a product like Sotarily Charming, and to work with university students to perfect the technology.
“These are really, really good suggestions. Thanks,” Mahika said.
She still has three years of high school ahead of her, but already she’s used to giving business pitches. Mahika was one of 29 secondary school students enrolled in the Loudoun Chamber’s inaugural Young Entrepreneurs Academy!, which graduated its first class in May. Over several months, the students developed business ideas and presented their plans to investors with the hopes of getting the seed money to launch their own legal, fully formed companies and nonprofit organizations. Mahika won $500 in investment funds for Sotarily Charming.
Her goal is to study business and finance at New York University and one day run a business, although that may not be too far out if Sotarily Charming goes well. “I’d love to start my own business,” she said. “That’s a dream of mine.”
The Mason Enterprise Center, at 202 Church St., hosts 1 Million Cups at 9 a.m. every Wednesday, and is always looking for entrepreneurs and other creatives to pitch their ideas. Learn more at here.