What started as a World Communications Charter School senior project for two students turned into entering and winning a school wide, city wide and regional competition with their invention; Jemeel Kemp, 19, and Aliyah Stephens, 17, now freshmen nursing students attending LaSalle University, are preparing for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurships’ National Challenge hosted in San Francisco on October 9th. I was fortunate enough to sit down and talk to them about their invention, how they got involved and what makes these Philly natives geek.
Nena: What was your invention?
Kemp & Stephens: A windbreaker jacket with flexible straps that are solar collectors with sun power strips. A wire charges the battery pack through the cord like a Halo/charger stick that can be switched in and out for different phones.
Nena: What do you like about being a part of NFTE?
Kemp: Wanting to be in nursing brought out the entrepreneur in me and wanted me to be my own boss and make a difference in the world. [NFTE] taught me how to manage my time and goals I set to go for- I never thought a charging jacket would take me to Nationals.
Stephens: Every competition I was the pessimistic one, but it taught me how to be more positive about things and to dream big. I like that it gave me something to look forward to like going to Nationals and opportunities my peers didn’t have.
Kemp: Not to mention the networking opportunities.
Stephens: Attending two galas we were able to network with very popular entrepreneurs and Mayor Nutter.
Nena: Are you nervous for Nationals?
Kemp: No, I’m excited because I have never been to San Francisco and I am not worried we will lose because we have made it this far and I am enthusiastic about our business. We have great team chemistry and a great presentation.
Stephens: I am excited and nervous entering new territory and we don’t know what inventions they are coming up with on the west coast, but we made our prototype and I am excited to prove myself wrong and I already know I accomplished something.
Nena: What would you say to other students who want to invent or create or join this project?
Stephens: Dream big- don’t think just because you didn’t win first place in school that you won’t win regional and don’t put yourself down.
Kemp: Dream big, but start small.
Nena: What will you do if you win the National prize?
Stephens: Put the prize into the business, continue networking, put ourselves through school and get our product on the market.
Nena: Do you consider yourselves geeks?
Stephens: I didn’t think I was before, but I never thought I would join a technology group and I did and I enjoy it and I want to continue
Kemp: I’m into the arts and that transferred over into being a geek- a COOL geek!
Nena: Anything else you would like to say?
Kemp: I grew up in Philly and I am not just doing this for myself, but for my family and friends and to be in a better financial setting to help my family and friends out.
Stephens: We worked very hard for this and it wasn’t handed to us- we went to school full time and then stayed afterwards every day until 5 or 6pm, weekends and worked a lot of this invention. It takes a lot of time and effort to be an entrepreneur and creator.