Social Innovation team profile
Some students are business-minded from an early age, and destined to apply their passion for entrepreneurship, even before they enter the workforce. That’s the case for the four members of team MOURE – Hannah Figurski, Linnea Lowenstein, Ana Cruz and Jillian Kasey MCamero. These young women are all juniors attending the High School of Business at AACT, a public school in Reno, Nevada that offers a variety of academy classes alongside traditional curriculum.
With interests ranging from business to music, accounting, video editing and marketing, team MOURE was motivated to join Intuit’s Fall 2022 Social Innovation Challenge by a desire to understand the process of starting a business.
MOURE connections, access and equality
MOURE stands for “Mentorship Organization for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs.” The team’s idea for the challenge was to create a nonprofit networking website, where entrepreneurs of all levels could connect and network, share ideas, ask for help and build connections. The idea came from an event hosted by seniors at the school in 2021, where local business owners were invited to dine, network and share their knowledge with students. Following the event, a survey sent to attendees relieved that business owners are eager to support aspiring entrepreneurs.
“It was clear from the survey responses that business owners think opportunities to connect with aspiring entrepreneurs on a personal level is a good idea,” Hannah said. “We wanted to make this type of forum accessible for all, so that underrepresented groups could more easily create mentor relationships with successful business owners.”
“Building relationships is especially important in today’s world,” Ana added. “By providing an online forum for this type of activity, we can reach a wider audience than if we were only hosting in-person events.”
On the site, mentors are matched with future business owners who can connect directly or participate in a discussion board. “You can find advice, post comments publicly, or use a private messaging system to connect one-on-one,” Linnea said. The site would be marketed via social media, radio and television, and possibly billboards, depending on available funding and sponsorships.
“It’s often more difficult for underrepresented individuals to obtain funding, for example, and getting the valuable information they need about available loans is often the most difficult part of their journey,“ Hannah said. “By building connections on MOURE, underrepresented individuals would be able to acquire the knowledge they need to reduce their business failure risk.”
Surviving a snowstorm – and learning business skills
Team MOURE encountered a few challenges as they filmed their video presentation for the challenge – including a snowstorm which made finding a spot for filming nearly impossible. “We tried a local cafe, but it was too loud, so we ended up filming in our Intuit mentor’s car,” Hannah said. “It was so cold!”
Despite unfavorable weather, the students enjoyed the adventure and made the Finalist round. They also learned valuable skills they can carry with them to future endeavors. “The biggest skill we developed is communication,” Ana said. “Spending so much time together, there will inevitably be conflicts that must be resolved, and I feel that’s the most valuable thing about the challenge. I also enjoyed getting to know everyone and building our own personal relationships.”
By taking Intuit’s Design for Delight course, the founders learned skills and processes that are applicable not only to this challenge, but for any project, which will be helpful as the young women continue with their educational journey and launch their careers.