Everyone knows that the members of Washington FBLA are incredibly bright and talented. They have high levels of intellectual vitality, are active in their community, and get a head start in the business world. For members like Matthew Montoya, however, that head start is the opportunity to become an entrepreneur.
While trying to purchase a new hard drive online, Montoya became frustrated with having to peruse multiple websites in order to find the best deal. It was this frustration that inspired him to engineer and program his own search engine, known as “Thrift It.”
The idea was ingenius, and Montaya began writing code for the project immediately. As functionality improved, his anticipation increased more and more. But he needed feedback on his project, and this feedback needed to be unbiased. “It was really crucial that I present my idea to possible investors or people who have lots of entrepreneurial experience who could really tell me what they think of my idea,” says Montoya. This need for advice on how to move forward is what pushed him to apply for the Launchpad program at the National Leadership Conference in Chicago this last summer. According to Montoya, the experience was unforgettable.
The Launchpad program was pioneered last year by FBLA National President Sam Kessler, with considerable assistance from our own Washington FBLA Executive Director, Lindsay Andreotti. The feedback from those who participated in it so far has been very positive.
“Launchpad is an opportunity to take an idea or creation you are passionate about and share that passion in front of other like-minded people with their own passion and creations,” Montoya explains. Anyone interested in being a part of Launchpad engages in an application process that consists of a description of their business idea, a business model, and a video presentation of their idea. From all of the applicants, only a few dozen were chosen to give their pitch at the National Leadership Conference.
There is a chance that some of you reading this article have some ingenious business ideas of your own. If so, Matthew Montoya has some words of wisdom for you:
“If you have an idea or invention you are passionate about, do not think twice about submitting your idea. I was really hesitant on whether or not it would be worth it to fly all the way down to Chicago and spend a lot of money just to attend Launch Pad, but I am so happy I decided to submit my idea. The experience and knowledge you will gain about being an entrepreneur and forming your own business is priceless and well worth it.”
Launchpad is an incredible idea. It truly provides a “launching point” for students to begin transforming their business proposal into a reality. It will be exciting to see the inspiration shared by our members this year as we bring Launchpad to our State Business Leadership Conferecne in Spokane in April and at next year’s NLC!