Not giving up has paid off for Karla Figueroa of Round Lake Beach and Fatemeh “Sima” Riahi of Grayslake, both juniors at Lake Forest College. The duo has been selected from applicants worldwide to pitch their idea-a collapsible barrel with a built-in filter to make contaminated water usable-in the esteemed Values and Ventures business plan competition at Texas Christian University.
The two will travel to Fort Worth, Texas to compete for $60,000 in cash and prizes during the two-day undergraduate competition, April 6-7.
“Getting through the preliminary round is going to be really hard, but we have such strong motivation to keep us going,” said Riahi, a biology major and chemistry minor.
Riahi and Figueroa hope their device, Nibipure, will provide a solution for disaster victims, in general, and the residents of Flint, Michigan, in particular, who have been unable to use their water for four years because of lead contamination.
To fix the problem, the two have designed a portable, cost-effective, weather-withstanding water barrel “that is efficient for everyday use,” Riahi said. The design includes an internal lead filter to make the water in Flint safe.
“This is the most exciting thing in the world,” said Figueroa, a finance major and international relations minor, of being the first Foresters to compete at Values and Ventures.
Locally, the duo will pitch their plan during the Forester Pitch Competition at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17 at the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois, Lake Forest.
“During our Pitch It Workshop, Karla and Sima were able to work with mentors to improve their initial product, narrow their target audience, and create a solid plan for growth,” said Patricia “Trish” Thomas, director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program that organizes the Forester Pitch Competition. She isn’t surprised two students in unrelated majors collaborated on a business project to help others.
“Lake Forest College is filled with entrepreneurs—people who find problems worth solving and mobilize the people and resources to solve them. Our Pitch It Competition is so much more than the chance to win $10,000 in prize money. Pitch It is designed to be a launchpad for our students to receive mentoring and assistance transforming their ideas into reality,” Thomas said. “Karla and Sima are both juniors, and I am thrilled to have another year to assist them in taking their product to market.”
Submitted by Lake Forest College