What being an Entrepreneur Means to Me

7 August 2019                                                           By     Lauren Barnes

Lauren (age 11) Destination Imagination

Lauren (age 11) Destination Imagination

Even as a kid, I was starting businesses, I was creating and doing and inventing. I had a little purple notebook I carried around and wrote down all of my ideas in. I was a nerdy, strong willed, blonde haired and crooked teeth, little spitfire-- to sum it up. I am sure that somewhere deep in the internet you can find countless email addresses and websites I made on the old little desktop computer my parents let me set up in my room. But as I grew up I dove deeper into school, got lots of jobs nannying, and dialed back that side of myself. But what I didn’t realize is that only dedicating myself to studying, working, playing sports, and being the introverted high schooler I was, put out that fire of passion and excitement about life that was always in me. Thankfully though, one day during the summer before college, I was having lunch with my dad when we started brainstorming and drawing on napkins, and I physically felt a little spark ignite inside of me. 

I got pumped about coming to college and made the choice to be true to myself from the get-go, so you can imagine my excitement when I went to my first business class, Gateway to Business, and they encouraged us to pitch a 10 second business idea to the class. I thought of the napkins. I had an idea to make a new kind of cup that wouldn’t pollute our world so devastatingly like the ones my dad and I got that day at lunch. I got a bunch of takers to be on my team and we tried like hell to get something going, but we never even made it past the first round of pitching. So again in the next class I took I and tried like hell with my new team to make the same idea better, I even entered in a pitch competition and lost that too. In the spring, I decided that I was going to pitch the idea to get into Pioneering Summer, but I needed a person on my team who wanted to commit to doing it with me for more than just 10 weeks in order to apply. I asked around and sent texts and emails that got no responses, until I met Kayle. 

Kayle was willing to do something totally crazy and not go home the summer after her first year to follow this dream alongside me, if on the off chance we got into the program. She is an engineering major who is passionate about sustainability, and from everything I knew about her, she gave her absolute all in everything she did. I couldn’t imagine a better fit. By some perseverance and luck, and a whole lot of the grace of God, we got in. When everyone went home for the summer, we stayed. Together, and with the support of Project X-ite, we have built OneKindCup to be an awesome product that is a combined cup, straw, and lid combination that’s compostable in non-industrial facilities to replace the traditional disposable soft drink cup, and a business around it where we can market and sell it so it becomes a reality. We try like hell everyday because we believe in the difference we could make. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be here and get to do the thing that sets us on fire every day. Being an entrepreneur and a student is not easy for either of us, and some days it doesn’t even feel worth it, but then I remember the blonde haired, crooked teeth little girl I was, and decide that I’m gonna become the person she thought I could be.