The Start-UP

February 9, 2017
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My fingers are crossed, eyes closed, I can feel my sweat slowly dripping from my forehead. “And the winner for the 2014 Startup EDU Weekend is…. Drumroll please….. Team GOALED!” I open my eyes wondering if I heard that correctly, Team GOALED, that was my team. My parents look at me grinning from cheek to cheek, motioning at the stage. I slowly stood up, still unsure of what was happening and walked on stage. I couldn't believe that in 52 hours my team and I created an idea, built an app, and pitched it. But let's backtrack a little. What happened?
“Ring, Ring, Ring” My face turns bright red as hear my phone ringing in my religious education class. Quickly I turn down and hastily grabbed my backpack rummaging through it to find my phone. While turning my phone on silent I see who was calling. Someone so important I am worried - what had I done to receive this call? My hands are twitching and my legs are shaking throughout the rest of class. As soon as class was over I hurriedly yank my phone out of my backpack and call the founder of my school, Ms. Sujata Bhatt. As I hear the dial tone I instinctively open and close the clasp on my jacket. “ “Hi Armaan, I wanted to ask you for a favor. Are you busy?” I could finally breath, I took a huge sigh knowing that I wasn’t in trouble. “No What can I help you with?” I say trying to sound as respectful as I can. “Great, I was wondering if you could help me on a project trying to solve problem with education. Who better to design education than the people who are getting educated, students. I know your skills at coding, pitching and ideating are amazing and I could really use you on my team.” she says. Shock went through my, almost as if I was electrified by an outlet. I am speechless, It is the third month that I have been at her school and I was picked out of all the other students that were there. “Of course, Ms. Bhatt, It would be my honor to be on your team.” I say with a little jump of excitement “Great, see you soon..” said Ms. Bhatt

I am NOT a big fan of  UCLA, mostly because my mom and other family members are Trojans. However, I walked onto the campus and went straight to the Anderson School of Business building where the competition was taking place. As I am walking I don’t even notice the beautiful campus containing the green and brown ficus trees, the colorful flowers, the brick buildings, all I am capable of focusing on are the butterflies in my stomach. I walk through the front doors of the building and I am overwhelmed by the number of people that were there. Over 300 people, all from different backgrounds smiling at me like bobbleheads, in a big room all with different teams of people brainstorming, prototyping, and building. I saw Ms. Bhatt in the left corner. I walked over to her.  She introduced me to her team of 3 other individuals. After the introductions we got straight to work.

We work long and hard to perfect our app, GOALED. We have to cold call, finish our MVP, minimum viable product, and work on our slideshow presentation. I barely got 2 hours of sleep that night with all the work that we were doing. The next morning we started practicing our pitch, speech/presentation, we practice until it is hammered into our brain

The pitching started and my nerves are on a high and my leg are shaking. I am so anxious to get my presentation over with. The other presentations were outstanding; I saw one about a website that curates all of the teacher’s resources for them, another one where they built a STEAM program in the palisades. As I saw each one I wondered if our presentation wasn’t good enough. “Next up, is Team GOALED. Their app creates a way for students to take more initiative in their learning by setting Goals and winning Gold.” the announcer said. I was handed a mic and pushed on stage. Everyone was staring at me and all I heard was the sound of my throbbing forehead. Slowly, I began to talk to get a feel for my audience, and then I was firing through my part of the pitch; WHAT is the app? Our pitch was over and we stepped down. The judges were in their contemplation room for what felt like an hour, but really only 10 minutes. After they came out, they thanked the audience and announced the winners.

This experience changed me and my entire life onto a different pathway. The pathway of business, entrepreneurship, and technology. Without this experience, I would have never gone to a hackathon, never started a company, never raised $40,000 for a business, never been so confident of who I am. This experience, this teacher, my family are all the things that I have thanks for.

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