First AET Students Compete in National Pitch Competition

A team of four students from the Academy of Engineering and Technology has been selected to compete in the 2018 INCubator National Pitch Competition.

The contest will be held July 18 in Chicago.

The students will showcase an idea they’ve been working on throughout the school year. Under the company name Grow Greenly LLC, the students have developed a self-fertilizing plant pot and a business model that will bring their product to market.

The students initially pitched their minimally viable product to the Entrepreneurship Board of Advisers in March. They worked with local garden clubs, attended makerspace events, and a native plant sale to perfect their product and business plan. Under the mentorship of class instructor, Laura Smidt, and team advisor, Lori Stone, the team engineered the composition of the biodegradable planters, using natural and recyclable materials that were tested to ensure that they helped the plant grow.

They returned to give a final presentation to the board in May, winning them a first place prize and a chance to attend the INCubator National Pitch Competition.

Grow Greenly’s self-fertilizing plant pots.

Grace Maloney, one of Grow Greenly’s founders, said there are about 6.3 billion tons of plastic in landfills and the oceans that negatively impact the environment and marine life. “Grow Greenly’s long-term goal is to eliminate plastic pollution and the need to use chemical fertilizers, promoting sustainability and conservation on a broad scale,” she said. “To make a difference, Grow Greenly will be meeting with investors at the National Pitch in hopes that they will invest in the company so that they can expand their operations and product line of biodegradable planters.”

The Grow Greenly team, made up of Pranavi Karnati, Vrushti Joshi, Azrin Rahman and Grace Maloney, are part of the Academy of Engineering and Technology’s first class. They are part of the academy’s entrepreneurial program, one of three tracks students can specialize in at the school.

The Academy of Engineering and Technology will be part of the Academies of Loudoun when it opens next month.

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