Jack Killion Entrepreneurial Scholarship Award 2022 Recipient - Isabel Lin
The Selection Committee for the Jack Killion Entrepreneurial Scholarship has selected Isabel Lin, a graduate of Kinnelon (NJ) High School who will matriculate at Brandeis University in Boston. The scholarship was awarded in recognition of Ms. Lin's entrepreneurial endeavors.
Jack Killion Entrepreneurial Scholarship 2022 Application Responses - Isabel Lin
- Describe your passion for being an entrepreneur
Growing up, I was surrounded by my grandparents' hot spring business. Working around the clock, my grandparents went to construction sites, attended client meetings, and conducted market research. Being in an entrepreneurial environment, I was inspired by their drive. My grandparents had the ambition and vision to make their small, family-owned business successful.
They were self-starters in every sense of the word, and as I watched them, I wanted to emulate their proactiveness in my own way. Thus, I want to be my own "girlboss" (a woman who pursues success by herself). Ever since I was eight, I dreamed of opening my own gymnastics facility with two neighboring stores. On the left would be a healthy beverage shop while on the right would be a hot spring. My gym would combine athletics with food and relaxation. Children and adults alike will be able to do gymnastics, relax in hot springs, and sip on the newest health trend.
However, I know that this dream would not happen overnight. Each day, I strive to become more knowledgeable to achieve my entrepreneurial dream.
- Describe your entrepreneurial efforts to date, what opportunity have you identified that needs addressed and how do your efforts address the opportunity?
My first entrepreneurial effort occurred in my sophomore year when I was faced with a severe concussion. During that time, the only thing that I could do was crochet for hours. However, feeling unfulfilled with just crocheting for myself, I decided that I wanted to reach a larger audience with my creations. My aunt is a nurse at a local hospital, and she gave me the idea of crocheting hats for newborns. Knowing about the importance of keeping a baby warm, I decided that I wanted to use my crocheting skills to make hats for them.
The first thing I did was buy many different skeins of yarn—I knew I needed plenty to start my business. In the following days, I spent hours looking up Youtube videos to find the perfect measurements, elasticity, and design for the hats. When that was all figured out, I went to work. Each day, I spent about 8 hours crocheting, so by the time I healed from my concussion, I had created more than 40 hats.
With the hats completed, the next step was to sell some hats. The first place that I tried selling was within my friend group. By using personal connections, I was able to sell over five hats. Many of my friends had relatives or friends who had newborns, so they were a good target audience.
By creating hats for newborns, I hoped to keep them warm. Keeping newborns warm was the entrepreneurial dream I hoped to achieve.
My second entrepreneurial effort occurred in my school club called Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA). In this club, my partner and I were tasked to create a fake start-up business. Coming from a Taiwanese background, I immediately knew that I was going to create a fake bubble tea business. As more Asian cuisines, like bubble tea, became readily available around the country, I knew that there was a growing market for this drink. However, there was one downside to this drink: its unhealthiness. My fake company sought to change that.
The boba in a classic bubble tea is made up of starchy carbs that contain no nutritional value. Not to mention, there is added sugar when cooking them. That is where my company "The All Nattea Fruitea" will bridge the gap. The All Nattea Fruitea is here to introduce a smarter and healthier bubble tea. Replacing boba with fruit pearls, my fake company would bring nutrients and antioxidants from fruits such as blueberries, elderberries, and pomegranates. By opting for a more health-conscious choice, my fruit pearls would bring in customers who are conscious of their health and eating patterns.
After completing our plans for The All Nattea Fruitea, my partner and I conducted surveys to friends, family, and strangers about what they thought of my idea. I got many positive reinforcements and jotted them down in my start-up business plan. Then, my partner and I made a presentation to showcase our findings and our potential product to the DECA committee.
My third entrepreneurial effort occurred in my junior year of high school when I re-entered the school system for the first time since fourth grade. I had previously been homeschooled to compensate for long hours spent in gymnastics training. Homeschooling isolated me from society, and I had to return to it. Feeling lost, I searched online for questions. However, there were little to no platforms that offered the answers that I had. It was then that I decided to create a blog.
With my computer in hand, I convinced my parents to let me create my own blog. My blog became a safe space to capture my thoughts. With my life taking such a dramatic turn, I was eager to share my observations. I started writing about all the new things I noticed. Whether it was talking about homeschooling versus public school, quitting a sport, or making new friends, my blog felt like a place where I could explore my thoughts. Through extrospection, I came to notice how societal tendencies and factors influenced my behavior.
Hence, I made it my mission to upload new posts once every month. Between school and extracurriculars, that was the best schedule that fit me most. Ultimately, I wanted to create a blog for retired athletes like myself who had unfortunately succumbed to injuries. I wanted to use my blog for others like me to relate to. In this endeavor, my entrepreneurial vision was to create a safe space for athletes to feel less alone as they embark on their transitions outside of sports and into other aspects of life.
- Pertaining to your entrepreneurial efforts, what have been your biggest challenges and biggest achievements?
There were many challenges with all three of my entrepreneurial efforts.
With my first entrepreneurial effort, the biggest challenge was sales. By the time I sold about seven baby hats, I began wondering if there was a better way for me to improve my sales. The main problem was figuring out the right selling price. When approaching this problem, I asked myself, "Who would realistically be buying my product?" and " who was my target market?" Another challenge I faced was the time needed to create the hats. When put in perspective, the number of hours needed to create a single hat was not worth the price I was selling it for; my hourly rate would be less than $5. For these reasons, I decided to donate rather than sell the remaining hats. I ended up donating over 25 hats to local hospitals in order to keep newborns not only warm, but also cute. Through these donations, I hope to leave an everlasting impression on my community.
Through my second entrepreneurial effort, my biggest challenge was my lack of knowledge in entrepreneurship. It was difficult figuring out what a start-up business plan looked like and all the parts needed in it. Although I did not qualify to continue in the DECA competition, I learned more about entrepreneurship in the long run, which I consider a great achievement.
Finally, with my last entrepreneurial effort, my biggest challenge was figuring out what to write. I wrote in that blog whenever I felt truly lost. When I finally felt like I found my place in public school and had moved on from gymnastics, I lost interest in my blog. Though my blog may not have lasted forever, through this experience I learned that while not all entrepreneurial efforts may succeed in the long term, it does not mean they cannot have a profound impact on individuals during their time. My blog was one of my biggest achievements as it was a place of solace that helped me to come to terms and move on from my past troubles when I had needed it the most.
- What is the most important lesson you have learned since becoming an entrepreneur?
From my ventures, I've learned that entrepreneurship is a learning process. It is not something that happens overnight; it is of utmost importance to have an open mind. Failing is an integral part of entrepreneurship that is bound to happen to all beginners. Rather, it is much more important to learn from those failures and then to try again and again until it is a success. Part of the learning process is learning to listen to advice. Whether or not you like it, there are always people who know more about the matter at hand than you do. Being a sponge for constructive criticism and knowledge is absolutely essential to being an entrepreneur.
Even though I have a long way to go, my past efforts have taught me a lot about myself and about business in general. I have also come to realize the sacrifice necessary to start a business. An idea is not enough. Blood, sweat, and tears are all involved in the process of bringing an idea to life. As I dive deeper into entrepreneurship, I hope to make my grandparents proud as I establish my own successful brand and company in the future.
- How do you anticipate college helping in your entrepreneurial journey?
I believe in the saying "great minds think alike" and that the purpose of college is not only to learn but to also form meaningful connections. College will allow me to meet like-minded individuals to discuss my dream ideas. My ideas may not be perfect, but college will enable me to polish and cultivate them with a proper business mindset. Not to mention, professors and peers alike will provide me with ideas of their own that I can learn from.
I'm also interested in studying abroad. I am a Taiwanese American and have been afforded many opportunities to visit my parents' homeland, Taiwan. Visiting a culture different from my own has opened my eyes to different values and beliefs. If I were to receive my education in another country, I would be introduced to an entirely new environment and economy. Perhaps even an entirely different way of thinking outside of my own current breadth of knowledge. By learning about more foreign markets and cultures, I will be able to connect with future clients, entrepreneurs, and communities on a deeper level.
We want to thank everyone who submitted an application and wish them continued success!
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