By Eric Van Meter
The students behind the new venture OnwardPacks belong to a generation that’s redefining the popular concept of entrepreneurship, blending sustainable profit with strong social values to change the lives of people in need.
In April, they were awarded $5,000 for their vision, winning third place in the international Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition hosted by the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University (TCU).
To consumers, OnwardPacks is a retailer, offering high-quality backpacks. To communities, OnwardPacks is education champ, using a portion of its proceeds to donate books and equipment to music, sports, and art programs directly to U.S. schools in need.
OnwardPacks finds the schools. Consumers choose what programs they wan to support at the point of purchase. Teachers get the tools they need but often can’t afford. Children get a richer and more fun and inspiring education.
It’s a simple but powerful connection you can see for yourself in this video of the company’s first donation to Picture Rocks Intermediate School northwest of Tucson, Ariz.:
Each year’s class in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program learns problem-solving, analytics, communications, strategy, and other life-long skills needed to turn an idea into a sustainable initiative, using new ventures they create as applied, real-world learning vehicles in the second semester of the program.
“We want to make this our future,” team member Jacklyn Hall, Eller Marketing ’12, said during the Neely School competition. “Every action this year has been to make OnwardPacks a viable, successful business so we can go out in the world and make a difference for education.”
The Neely School launched the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition in 2011 to recognize undergraduate entrepreneurship ventures that combine viability and values with business plans that demonstrate specific ways the businesses will improve quality of life.
At the 2012 competition, 22 teams from around the world competed, including winners from the University of Houston, University of Oklahoma, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Mexico), and Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada). Five business leaders from consulting and investment firms judged the 2012 competition.
Learn more about the top-ranked study programs and venture teams of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.