In the RC year at HBS, everyone has to pull a team together of 6 and build a business with $5000. My team of fellow Section H honeybadgers were Ricardo Aguirre, Najah Abouelafia, Lana Kholeilat, Junghans Tasani and Nicola Asgill.
Ana had told me about how her team pursued an idea that enabled people to charge their iPhones in bars. I loved this idea and thought about building on it by having shoelaces that charge your phone. This idea eventually evolved into a portable charger keychain for iPhone 5 that solved the problem of forgetting your charger at home. It was a $25 solution that prevented you from having to unplug your charger and carry it around with you or buying another one from the Apple store for $40. It wasn’t meant to carry charge and it wasn’t meant to have an extension cord. It was supposed to be a quick emergency solution that we invented should you need 10% battery more to call that Uber or tell your friend that your phone is dying but that you’re on your way.
I worked on the marketing and graphics side. I worked with Wendy Figueroa back in LA to help design the logo and website, and I worked with Berklee friends and a local videographer to shoot a promo video. I got to write words that I thought represented the freedom that having a charged mobile device represents. I also got to incorporate elements of Atomic Living. It was cool to work on a team where I felt like everyone trusted each other – Lana was the fearless leader, JT did TOM/Operations with China, Ricardo was the electrical engineer who 3D printed the outside and rigged the inside with charger parts and Najah and Nic did the finances and final decks.
We had a launch party at my house where we had a rule not to invite any RCs since that wouldn’t really feel real – we instead invited people from the music and art community in Boston, as well as some fab tech friends I had met that year. Ana invited all her funky fabulous EC friends. Em Toshack took gorgeous photos for us.
We had food and drinks with the theme of “charge up and charge forward.” We wore our t-shirts with the logo on it and gave shirts to people who tested the product and left us feedback on the whiteboard wall in my living room. I did actually learn from the whole experience. I learned that it’s fucking hard to communicate a vision or idea that’s in your head to a group of people who understand your product differently, and it’s fucking hard to design something cool, and that I’m much better at having the vision and the vibe of the brand than I am at executing the logistical elements of bringing the product into existence. I learned that encouraging your team and trusting each of their roles as long as everyone updates each other and is on the same page can be an effective way of managing a project. I also had a blast. It was so much work and I was really happy with where we ended up. I felt lucky to be at Harvard too – to just have to build a business and pitch on a virtual stock market (we came third in our section during the first investing period!) and be given $5000 to make things happen – it is all so cool. The farce of it all is that somehow I still managed to still get a III in FIELD at the end of the year!!! I know for me I gave a lot to the program and got so much out of it – the memories still fly high in my mind – that it all doesn’t matter. Harvard hasn’t kicked me out yet, and I have this amazing new set of skills and memories that are forever untouchable.