Launchpad for student entrepreneurs

MIT LaunchX Club puts student ideas in motion


Sisley Mark '20

LaunchX members receive honors for their products.

Getting a head start takes on a whole new meaning for the members of the MIT LaunchX Club; this year, they have become entrepreneurs, creating companies that are meant to last beyond their four years at Jones.

The club, which follows a program created by the company LaunchX was brought to Jones by Yasmeena Faycurry ‘18. Along with the club, Faycurry brought her own experience in creating companies.

“I had prior experience [creating] my own startup company sophomore year,” said Faycurry. “After its success, I wanted to be able to provide a similar experience for other students because there was none of that at Jones, so, I looked into programs. MIT Launch was probably the closest thing to it.”

Currently, the Jones chapter of LaunchX is home to three startup companies: Seeds of Friendship, Triton Technologies and Green Teen. All three are centered around sustainability, the theme of this year’s LaunchX curriculum.

The first group, Seeds of Friendship, created an educational toy for children.

“The goal of the company is to create an awareness of cultures that aren’t necessarily represented in school classrooms,” said Faycurry. “They make paper dolls that represent people of those cultures [and pair them with] packets of seeds from those regions.”

The second group, Triton Technologies, has seen a substantial amount of success this year. With their product, Duck-E, the company won regionals and landed a trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, where they presented it to investors.

Duck-E is a water skimmer that picks up matter pollutants on the surface of smaller bodies of water.

“There are many different water cleaners, but those are specifically targeting oceans and larger bodies of water,” said company member James Conde ‘19. “We wanted to create a product that was specifically for lake cleanup because about 50 percent of our water in the Chicagoland area is not being used because of pollutants.”

Not only is the company awaiting to hear whether or not they have won a $5000 grant, but they have also garnered the interest of two potential investors.

“We have a potential investor that owns a percentage of FedEx Ground and another company that was interested in our idea,” said Conde.

Triton Technologies have plans for the future that surpass their time at Jones.

“We’re filing for a patent, we’re getting a business license, we’re fundraising for a second prototype and we’re also going to go to Startupalooza,” said Conde.

Triton Technologies isn’t the only startup at Jones that is planning for the future. The third company, Green Teen, has also made plans to expand next year.

Green Teen is behind the recent implementation of composting at Jones.

“Our mission is to make composting accessible to schools across the United States. We did that first by trying it out at Jones. It didn’t go as well as we planned but we knew that there were a lot of kinks that we would need to work through,” said Green Teen member Isabel Sices ‘20. “Next year, we’re planning on bringing the composting initiative to Jones for the entire year and then also bringing the initiative to Walter Payton, [Saint] Ignatius, and maybe Whitney Young.”

Next  fall, Sices will take over Faycurry’s leadership role in the club, but, at the beginning of this year, she had no plans to take any position..

“Initially, I didn’t choose to join MIT LaunchX, my friends kind of roped me in. It turned out really well and I wound up liking it,” said Sices.

Sices said that she liked it enough that she’s hoping to make a career out of Green Teen.

“I personally feel like the only way that you can make your business successful in the short term is if you intend and expect to be working on it for as long as you possibly can, said Sices. “I hope that I will continue working on Green Teen through college. The best scenario is that it turns into my job.”

Sices is hoping to give this opportunity to more students next year when she takes the reins of the Jones LaunchX club.

“My main goals for next year are obviously to have as many people join the club as possible because it’s really good experience,” she said.

Science teacher and club sponsor Garrett Smith said, “I thought it was a really awesome opportunity for students to start engaging in making products.I would have never thought to do that in high school.”

Some club members agreed with Smith, citing the opportunities that the club has presented with gratitude. “I’ve always wanted to be my own boss but I never really had the opportunity to explore what that means,” said Sices. “When you’re a kid, you don’t have a chance because you’re not responsible enough etcetera, etcetera.”

Conde attributes his company’s success and persistence to the LaunchX events and competitions they have been apart of.

“There’s definitely an incentive for the people in our group to keep going because of these achievements we’ve had. I don’t think we would have had these achievements if we hadn’t done LaunchX.”