One student, junior Nikhil Jyothinagaram , decided in high school that he wanted to better the experience of donating to charity organizations in India by creating a website, Kliink.com where donors could directly interact with beneficiaries.
“I realized I had no idea how to do it,” he said.
Jyothinagaram, an entrepreneurship minor, said the Campus Y and 1789 allowed him to connect with other social innovators and build a team.
He joined forces with fellow UNC students Cody Owens , Kevin Jang and Paige Sferrazza to help build his project, and the team is a finalist in the Carolina Challenge startup competition, the next round of which takes place March 26. He expects the site to go live in June.
Junior Patrick Mateer, a math and economics major, said he was interested in sustainable agriculture, and used the CUBE to develop his startup, Seal the Seasons, which competed in a state-wide social entrepreneurship competition at N.C. Agricultural & Technical University.
Mateer said workshops in the CUBE taught him a lot about the intricacies of business plans, which he hadn’t yet learned in the classroom.
“As a non-business major, a lot of those things I wasn’t aware of, or I wasn’t familiar with,” he said. “That was helpful because I went from very little understanding to a lot of understanding very quickly.”
Cone said the traditional nonprofit model can be limiting, and some ideas that help the world would best be implemented by people running a for-profit startup.
“They’re looking at innovative ways where their motivation is still social good, but they say, ‘What are all the tools I can use to advance a solution to that?’” he said.
Cone added that exposure to entrepreneurship is helpful for all students, no matter what career they pursue, because they teach fundamental problem-solving skills.
“I think people are beginning to see this as a broader skill set than just starting a company,” she said.