Several weeks ago I published an interview about an entrant into the National Elevator Pitch Competition and how her pitch went viral, gaining over 59,000 views in less than a week. Several weeks later, Kaeya Majmundar not only made the field of 60 competitors at the competition hosted at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization National Conference in Chicago, she excelled in all three rounds of the competition and won 1st place overall. Prizes included a total of $4,000 cash and National recognition as the competition’s champion.
I contacted Kaeya to follow up with her since our last conversation to get her thoughts after her great accomplishment and to see what is next for her and her patented EZBox, the solution to hard to assemble packing boxes.
Name: Kaeya Majmundar
Age: 19 years
School: Emory University
Company Name: EzBox
Major & Year in School: Human Biology and Anthropology, Sophomore
Michael Luchies: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Kaeya Majmundar: “Last May, my friends and I were getting ready to move out of our dorm after our first year at Emory. We had to pack everything while studying for finals. We had to make sure our room was left spotless so we didn’t incur room damage fees. I was also faced with the task of reserving a storage space and trying to find a way to transport everything from my dorm to the storage space. Somehow, I managed to pack all of my stuff and get it in the storage space in time. My friend, Bari, on the other hand, managed to leave everything until the last minute. I helped her pack her things and then, as I was carrying one of her boxes out to the car, everything started tumbling out from bottom of the box. I realized that she hadn’t secured the bottom of the box properly. After a long day of dealing with too many of Bari’s boxes, I figured there had to be a better way.”
ML: Have you always considered yourself an entrepreneur? Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey:
KM: “I come from a family of doctors. I used to sit in the hospital’s dark reading room with my mom while she interpreted radiographs and follow my dad during his hospital rounds. I never really thought to consider going into anything other than medicine, simply because that’s how I grew up. I entered college with the pre-medical plan all laid out. Chemistry and calculus freshman year, biology and physics sophomore year…then organic chem, biochem and finally, the MCAT. Then I went to the CEO conference, and unlike my regular day when I am driving myself crazy trying to understand Newton’s Laws, I found that pitching my product, answering questions, and networking came naturally to me. While I was on stage during the closing keynote, it really hit me that I am going to have to chat with my parents. I am an entrepreneur.”
ML: Why did you decide to enter the CEO National Elevator Pitch Competition?
KM: “I am obsessed with the show, Shark Tank, on ABC. My dad mentioned it to me last summer while I was sitting in the kitchen, wrestling with giant sheets of cardboard and duct tape. By the end of the week, I had watched every single episode, and filled up a spiral notebook with notes about what went wrong with some pitches, highlights of others, and vital tips from those infamous Sharks. It has become a dream of mine to have the opportunity to get into that Shark Tank. When I found out about the Elevator Pitch Competition, which is very similar, I had to grab the opportunity. After I won the Elevator Pitch, I actually applied to Season 5 of Shark Tank, so I’m crossing my fingers, hoping to hear back from them!”
ML: How was your experience at the conference?
KM: “It was incredible. The Pitch Competition was definitely the highlight for me. I’ve never participated in a competition like this before and since I have little to no formal educational background in business, I really did not know what I was getting into. However, when I began to mingle with the other presenters and listened to their ideas and pitches, I felt very energized and inspired.”
ML: What do you plan to do with the prize money?
KM: “I am setting aside a portion of the money to patent another idea of mine. I will be using the rest to facilitate meetings with potential EzBox manufacturers.”
ML: What are the next steps for you and your business?
KM: “After having succeeded at the CEO competition, I will now set my sights on manufacturing and distribution of my EzBox.”
ML: How has the elevator pitch competition preparation and experience helped you with your business?
KM: “The pitch competition helped confirm that the EzBox has great potential. Anyone can practice a speech over and over, and perfect it. I must have rehearsed a couple hundred times. From that perspective, it was really gratifying to receive so many compliments on my pitch. However, the real sense of achievement came from the number of people who came up to me after each pitch and commented on the ingenuity of my invention. Many of the judges as well as audience members approached me after each round and requested a demonstration of the box. They were all amazed at the simplicity and practicality of the idea. That is really when I knew that my EzBox will go places.”
ML: How are you able to manage going to school and working on a business at the same time?
KM: “I would say that two things are most important for me this year: balance, and prioritization. I am a Human Biology and Anthropology major by day, and entrepreneur by night, auditing courses at the Goizueta Business School, consulting with my attorney, and suiting up for networking events. There are, of course, sacrifices that have to be made; while it’s tempting to join my friends at concerts, dinners, or school events, you could probably find me in my dorm either studying or working on my invention.”
Congratulations to Kaeya on her entrepreneurial accomplishments and good luck to her and EZBox, and all future endeavors.
Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur at heart, avid sports fan, and supporter of entrepreneurship. Michael serves as the National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO). Michael has a B.S. from Bradley University in Entrepreneurship and has operated several internet businesses over the past decade.
Image Credit: emoryadmissionfellow.wordpress.com