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Jumpstart Virtual Startup Competition
Jumpstart Virtual Startup Competition

Competition can still thrive when everyone is stuck at home. From May 29 to May 31, Minnetonka students joined those from as far away as India to participate in the Jumpstart Virtual Startup Competition. A combination business competition and hackathon, Jumpstart is an event that incorporates technology and business to provide students with the opportunity to "jumpstart" their own startup. Students worked together in teams to identify a solution to a problem using technology, and then present their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win office hours with industry professionals and prize money.

Jai Chadha, a graduating senior from Minnetonka High School, was one of the event leaders - along with students from Minnetonka, Edina and Eden Prairie High Schools.

"During these uncertain times, it is difficult to continue pushing forward and finding new ways to explore our interests," Chadha says. "My team and I know that the intersection of business and technology is becoming ever more prevalent and it is for this reason that we were pleased to share a unique experience available to all students."

From coding and user interface skills to business insights, students who participated in the Jumpstart event gained valuable knowledge. "We are confident that all participants left with many skills among which were the ability to identify a problem and collaborate in a team to determine a potential solution," says Chadha. "All these skills and more are essential for life because they help all to be meticulous when confronting a challenge." In addition, business and technology professionals provided students with mentorship through project help and guidance.

One student, Ally Chan, a rising senior at MHS, and her team, Safe Stuffing, won third place in the event. Safe Stuffing is a company that manufactures edible stuffing for dog toys. Earlier this year, Safe Stuffing won first place at a business competition at the University of St. Thomas.

"We have put so much hard work over several months into our business plan for Safe Stuffing and became so passionate about our idea that we wanted to compete," says Chan. "We've already had success with our pitch in Minnetonka's Shark Tank and the St. Thomas Business Plan competition, so we thought it would be a great idea to enter in the Jumpstart Virtual Startup competition because we were already doing so well and we wanted to keep our momentum of success going."

"I learned how to effectively communicate and work collaboratively with my team online," says Chan about her Jumpstart experience. "This event taught me how to collaborate efficiently and effectively through technology, instead of through face-to-face interactions. I am very grateful to have improved upon this useful skill, since I now have no choice but to conduct almost every meeting virtually."

Another team, PillPlant, who won Best Overall, had a very unique idea. They created a device known as "PillPlant" that turns expired medicine into plant fertilizer by extracting the important nutrients and using it to enrich plants. In addition, they also created an app that informs users about whether or not their medicine is able to be turned into fertilizer.

These sorts of creative ideas are the breakthroughs are the ideas that Chadha knows Jumpstart inspires students to come up with. "Jumpstart hopes to push students beyond their boundaries, challenge them to develop new and innovative solutions in any field of their interest," he says. "Jumpstart just gave participants a "jump start" on their ideas."

Thank you Jai Chadha and his team for organizing the event and congratulations to all participants!

To learn more about the different entries of the Jumpstart event, visit:

To watch the opening and closing ceremonies of the event, visit:

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