In the news
Doing well by doing good
By J.M. Berger
The Jesuit credo “men and women for others” is a commonly heard phrase around the Boston College campus.
So it came as a shock when a group of students attending a conference on corporate responsibility and sustainability realized there was no related program at Boston College.
“We thought, How could this possibly be?” said Sofia Papastamelos, class of 2013, one of the cofounders of Boston College Social Entrepreneurs Envisioning Development, or BC SEED, an effort to wed undergraduate business studies with social responsibility.
A newly created spinoff of the Boston College Venture Competition (BCVC), BC SEED offers student teams the chance to compete for $1,000 in startup money for a company that makes a positive social impact.
Finalists in the inaugural contest included a social networking website for charities and two proposals oriented around fresh drinking water. On April 18, they gathered before a panel of judges to present their business plans.
Simplicity beat out complexity, as an amazing nanotechnology-driven device to extract water from the humidity in air was vanquished by a simple stainless steel bottle.
Maji Bottles, named after the Swahili word for water, are marketed to college students. A portion of the proceeds is donated to dig wells in Africa.
“For every four products sold, we give one person clean drinking water for the rest of their life,” said Max Ade, class of 2012, during his team’s winning presentation (pictured, from left, Max Ade '12, Paul Veiga '12, Alex Trautwig '12, and Austin Nissly '14).
Unlike the other two business plans presented, Maji has already started selling its wares. Their company, NBD Nanotechnologies, won the BCVC’s $10,000 grand prize one week earlier.
Like any seed, BC SEED has plans to grow.
“Next year, we’re definitely going to have a longer competition, with more stages, more time to prepare, and more mentorship events,” says Albert Margossian, class of 2013, another cofounder of BC SEED.
Larry Meile, an adjunct associate professor of operations management and faculty advisor for BCVC, said the competition teaches students that business fundamentals matter even when profit is not the primary goal.
“You may be not-for-profit, but you still need a value proposition,” Meile said.