NHS alum com­petes in busi­ness con­test

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - By BROOKE SCHULTZ bschultz@ches­pub.com

When Jack Crow­ley was in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing a paint­ing, he had some­thing spe­cific in mind and was dis­ap­pointed when he couldn’t find it in stores any­where. So he came up with an idea for an app that con­nects artists with cus­tomers in­ter­ested in com­mis­sion­ing a spe­cific work of art.

Crow­ley, 18, started work on the Artistry app as a se­nior at Ne­wark High School last year.

He and his busi­ness plan rose through the com­pe­ti­tion and be­came one of two semi-fi­nal­ists in the Philadel­phia re­gion out of nearly 130 con­tenders. Ear­lier this month, he com­peted in New York City in the Na­tional Youth En­trepreneur­ship Chal­lenge to pitch his idea in front of judges from fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies like Citi and EY.

The Na­tional Youth En­trepreneur­ship Chal­lenge brings to­gether 40 of the top qual­i­fy­ing Net­work for Teach­ing En­trepreneur­ship stu­dents from all over the coun­try. The top three stu­dents com­peted in front of a live au­di­ence and a panel of judges for prizes to­tal­ing $35,000.

Crow­ley ended up mak­ing it through the first day of com­pe­ti­tion and, on the sec­ond day, com­peted against the two peo­ple who ended up win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion.

“They had great ideas,” he said. “Ul­ti­mately, I’m happy for them, and they did a great job. It was great see­ing all the pre­sen­ters and ideas. It in­spired me to work harder and do more with my ap­pli­ca­tions.”

Though Crow­ley is a fresh­man at the Univer­sity of Delaware, this isn’t his first time de­vel­op­ing a busi­ness plan. As a sopho­more at NHS, Crow­ley en­rolled in a busi­ness class and de­vel­oped an­other idea. His teacher, Lucinda Oates-Wi­ley, sug­gested he com­pete within the school as part of the na­tional Net­work for Teach­ing En­trepreneur­ship pro­gram at Ne­wark High.

“I didn’t get past the third round that time,” he said.

But, as a se­nior, he de­cided to craft a busi­ness around the prob­lem he had in find­ing art.

“Peo­ple seemed to re­ally like my idea, and I ul­ti­mately got to this point,” he said.

For this project, there’s a twopronged ap­proach – he’s tar­get­ing both the artists and the con­sumers.

“I’m re­ally try­ing to change the game for those artists, re­ally try­ing to end un­em­ploy­ment by pro­vid­ing a stable plat­form,” he said. “Ap­pli­ca­tions like Etsy or Red­bub­ble kind of aren’t of­fer­ing enough to them in many ways. I think they need some­where they can re­ally net­work with other artists.”

For the con­sumers, this pro­vides them a cus­tomiz­abil­ity they can’t get any­where else and, through re­views and sam­ples of pre­vi­ous work avail­able on the ap­pli­ca­tion, there will be cer­tainty “that qual­ity art is be­ing cre­ated for the cus­tomers as well,” he noted.

Crow­ley said that he’s work­ing with a stu­dent en­rolled in UD’s Horn En­trepreneur­ship Pro­gram to de­velop the app. In about four months, users will be able to down­load it, he said.

He also was quick to thank OatesWi­ley for her guid­ance.

“She’s been awe­some and has pro­vided all the nec­es­sary tools,” he said.

Oates-Wi­ley said that it’s ful­fill­ing to see her stu­dents uti­lize the skills they learn in class and then ap­ply it to busi­ness ideas that have real-life ap­pli­ca­tions.

“I want them to be self-suf­fi­cient, and I push them,” she said. “[NYEC] aligns with the pur­pose for me be­ing a teacher here to see stu­dents reach their goals, they reach their po­ten­tial, they kind of get out­side their com­fort-zone. They see things out­side.”

For Oates-Wi­ley, who has been at Ne­wark High for 12 years and worked with the NFTE pro­gram for six years, Crow­ley isn’t her first stu­dent to make it to the fi­nal round. She noted that two se­niors at Ne­wark, Alexis Schi­affino and Joseph Tay­lor, both came in third place in Philadel­phia this year for their project “Seek to Find,” a ser­vice that helps lo­cate lost jew­elry through a track­ing sys­tem.

Even though they didn’t make it as far as Crow­ley, both learned a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It helped me get a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence through that and get more knowl­edge in the topic,” Schi­affino said. “I also want to pur­sue a ca­reer as a busi­ness ma­jor in the fu­ture, so that helps a lot.”

“We re­ally just want to keep go­ing with the busi­ness and strive to do bet­ter in the long-term,” added Tay­lor.

Oates-Wi­ley also went to to New York City with Crow­ley and, be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion, helped him pre­pare for the big day.

“As a teacher, you want your stu­dents to go out there and achieve, but achieve more than what they can ever dream of,” she said.

Although Crow­ley didn’t win, his pos­i­tive at­ti­tude didn’t wa­ver.

“Be­cause I didn’t win, it’s not the end of the idea,” he said. “There was an un­der­ly­ing quote through the com­pe­ti­tion it­self – some­thing like, ‘My de­feat is what pow­ers me.’ I won by be­ing there, and peo­ple like the idea. I can get it done re­gard­less of the com­pe­ti­tion.”

And he has some ad­vice to as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs: if it’s an idea you’re pas­sion­ate about, keep go­ing, no mat­ter what peo­ple say.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF JOE DANTONE

Jack Crow­ley, 18, presents his topic in front of judges. Crow­ley, an alum­nus of Ne­wark High School, pre­sented his busi­ness idea in New York as a fi­nal­ist in a com­pe­ti­tion that awards up to $35,000 to young en­trepreneurs.

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