Photo Aug 17, 3 00 24 PM


Eight St. Margaret’s students spent the summer working as entrepreneurs to further develop their own start-up businesses at the UCI Applied Innovation Wayfinder Incubator, a highly selective strategic resources program typically reserved for the University’s most promising innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Tartans were invited to the Wayfinder Incubator through a St. Margaret’s-UCI Applied Innovation partnership to further develop their winning inventions and business ideas they developed last year in the grade 8 science Tartan Tank unit.

At summer’s end, the students presented their start-ups to mentors, family members and the Applied Innovation community in a special showcase at UCI.

Wayfinder is a program for UCI-affiliated startups that is designed to accelerate venture development by providing teams with space, strategic guidance, and other valuable support resources. The program is managed by UCI Applied Innovation and run out of The Cove, the organization’s innovative physical space in UCI Research Park.

The students spent more than 100 hours over the summer taking advantage of the expert resources and support made available to participating teams there, including workshops, interactions with Wayfinder’s experts-in-residence, and strategic guidance and feedback from fellow entrepreneurs.

The students, now all Upper School freshmen, will continue to be supported by the Wayfinder Incubator through the fall as they continue to develop their idea with the ultimate goal of pitching it to investors.

“This has been such a great experience for these students,” said Middle School science teacher Eric Harrington, who partnered with St. Margaret’s alumnus Umar Bajwa ’05 to grow the Tartan Tank program. “They learned so much from all the entrepreneurial minds they had the opportunity to interact with, and it’s inspiring to see the progress they’re making on such great ideas.”

The products being developed by St. Margaret’s students in the incubator included included:
  • SwipeRescue, a project conceptualized by Maddie Milo, Mary Smith and Sasha Kuljis as an app that makes the adoption of rescue pets more efficient and streamlined.
  • BlazeRunner, a project created by Parisa Khashayar, which was pitched as a “FitBit for firefighters.” It worked as a wristband with multiple sensors to better monitor the health and safety of first responders.
  • Duble, a radical redesign of an everyday toothbrush to be faster and easier for kids to use. Josh Buckanavage spent the summer at UC Irvine advancing the idea conceptualized by himself, Cyrus Shirangi and Bobby Springer.
  • Bloo, a project by Gianna Montesano, Olivia Ostlund and Caroline Sele, is an app that helps identify harmful everyday chemicals that people are putting in their bodies through food and cosmetics.
“It is inspiring to see our students pursuing their innovative ideas in such a dynamic, vibrant environment as UCI Applied Innovation,” said Ryan Dahlem, assistant head of school for strategic initiatives. “We are grateful for our partnership with UCI and Applied Innovation Associate Director Carolyn Stephens, the vision of Eric Harrington and incredible work of alumnus Umar Bajwa. The synergy of these three provided an unmatched learning experience for our creative, young entrepreneurs that helps bring the future into the present.”

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