Congratulations to “Rainbow,” our student team from BASIS Independent Fremont, on winning the inaugural “BINS Means Business” competition. This is a startup pitch contest that any high school student or student team from each of our BASIS Independent Schools (BINS) can enter. The contestants competed locally at each of their schools, presenting a business idea following the Y Combinator pitch deck format. Then the school winners advanced to the finals, which were held on February 25th over Zoom. The five finalists split $10,000, with $5,000 and $2,000 awarded to the winner and runner-up, to allocate to a charity of their choice. This year’s theme was “sustainability,” and students participated from BASIS Independent Brooklyn, Fremont, Manhattan, McLean, and Silicon Valley.
Angela Z. and Lauren W., both students in BASIS Independent Fremont’s Class of 2026, presented their innovative idea for an environmentally friendly and biodegradable smart umbrella – the Parapluie. All of the judges were impressed by the sophistication of their presentation as well as the great potential of their product. “I’m ready to order mine right away,” commented one judge!
“We could not have done it without the help of Mr. Ong, our instructors, and our peers, who have supported us and guided us throughout this entire journey,” said Angela and Lauren. "It's been a great pleasure to have worked with everyone along the way, and we're honestly a bit sad that it’s over! Those couple of sleepless nights and that intense feeling of stressing out before each round will only pass down as precious memories. So, thank you, everyone, for supporting us so that we could see a rainbow at the end of this memorable road!”
Mr. Ong, Economics and Business Subject Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent Fremont, expressed his pride and congratulations.
“Heartiest congratulations to Angela and Lauren, co-founders of the Rainbow Company, for their outstanding performance. It was a pleasure to work with them on this project. This inaugural business competition at BASIS Independent Schools is a great initiative to strengthen the BASIS Curriculum in business and finance, and, as a DECA advisor, I look forward to continuing to nurture our students’ business drive and lay the foundation for their future success in college and beyond.”
Second place was awarded to Scarlett S. in BASIS Independent Manhattan’s class of 2024 with her company Gard-Eco, a home delivery service for home gardens in New York City.
Scarlett S., Class of 2024
“I loved stepping out of my comfort zone by participating in this competition, and I am so grateful for this amazing learning experience,” said Scarlett.
Student teams competing in the final all received prizes of $1,000, with the winning team receiving $5,000 and the second place team $2,000. The money is donated to a charity or cause of choice.
Rainbow has decided to donate their prize money to the charity Doctors Without Borders. GardEco has selected the organization Choose Creativity.
Congratulations are also in order to our three school finalists across the network:
- Brooklyn – Alexa L. ’24 pitched a Sustainable Fashion app that would help facilitate used clothes donations and drive consumers to purchase from sustainable clothing retailers. She will donate her $1,000 prize to Little Essentials, a non-profit in Brooklyn helping underserviced families with gently used clothing donations for babies and children.
- McLean – Melis O. and Shaun J. ’24 pitched their Sustainability Index Platform and Marketplace concept. They will donate their $1,000 prize to Turkish Philanthropy Funds.
- Silicon Valley – Roshan A., Nathan W., and Max W. ’24 pitched a business idea called Chlarity. They donated their $1,000 prize to Grist, a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.
BINS Means Business – Expert Judging Panel
Ms. Catherine Lu
Ms. Catherine Lu is a venture capital investor at Alumni Ventures, where she makes investments in startups at their earliest stages of development. Previously, she held product management roles at DataVisor and Palantir. Prior to that, she co-founded a retail analytics startup that was acquired by Palantir. She received a bachelor's and master's degree in computer science from Stanford University.
Mr. Amrit Saxena
Mr. Amrit Saxena is the Founder & CEO of SaxeCap, an AI transformation and private equity investment firm that conducts AI-levered buyouts and transforms enterprises with AI & automation technology. Additionally, he has successfully founded & sold two AI companies (Stella.ai and Fancy That) and is an active angel investor in data, AI, web3, and enterprise software companies in the Silicon Valley, investing in 200+ early stage technology companies (including several unicorns and companies that have gone public), private businesses, and PE/VC funds.
Prior to SaxeCap, Amrit founded and scaled Stella, a talent-sourcing AI company, to over 150 large enterprise clients (including 10% of the Fortune 500), leading technology (data science, product, engineering, etc.) and operations (pre-sales, client integrations, etc.). Stella was sold to Cornell Capital and Trilantic Capital Partners in a $1B+ private equity transaction in 2021. Additionally, Amrit founded, scaled, and sold Fancy That, a retail AI company, to Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) in 2015. Between his two AI startups, Amrit has experience buying a company, selling two companies, and scaling teams from zero to 50+ people. Amrit previously worked at Bain & Company, Groupon, AmEx, and e2e Analytics and taught and researched AI at Stanford University & MIT.
He received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and M.S. in Management Science & Engineering with a concentration in Operations Research, both from Stanford University with Distinction. Additionally, he has garnered numerous accolades, including being awarded sevenU.S. patents (relating to AI and optimization), a three-time finalist in the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO), winner of the American Mathematics Competition (AMC), finalist in the United States Physics Olympiad (USAPhO), Congressional Award Gold Medalist, Research Science Institute (RSI) Scholar, American Regions Math League (ARML) winner, and was selected for the President's Award for Academic Excellence and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society while at Stanford.
Mr. James Shin
Mr. James Shinn is a general manager and entrepreneur with a series of technology start-ups in the fields of digital signal processing, cyber security, data analytics, autonomous mobility, cryptocurrency, and generative artificial intelligence. He has a Bachelor of Arts and Ph.D. from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard University.
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