by: Grace Zhang | Jan 23, 2020
When you’re young, you tend to dream big. From flying cars to laser blasters, all great ideas start with the seed of inspiration within one or more individuals. Lofty goals are incredibly important to have, but it can be difficult to gather the resources and manpower to make your concept a reality– especially as a student without many contacts for support. Once entrepreneur Vedavyas Jampanaboyana observed this prevalent problem within the youth, he knew he had to do something to help. Along with his co-founder Reuben Reeves and CMO Crystal Wang, they created the Global Innovation and Youth Leaders Summit (GIYLS), a non-profit platform dedicated to creating opportunities and connecting youth around the globe to solve real world issues. “We promote social change in the STEM and business fields by bringing together high school students and adults who can engage with speakers, network with others, pitch ideas for funding, attend innovative workshops, and much more. Students come from low and middle income countries around the world,” explained Vedavyas. He and his partners saw this venture as the best way to make a mark while also creating positive change in communities all across the globe. This January, from the 19th to the 22nd, GIYLS hosted one of the world’s largest and most influential youth leaders summit in Liberia. And what was the main purpose of this event? Vedavyas had a simple answer: “We do what we do best, initiate social change and innovation through creativity.”
While this venture was one of Vedavyas’ first major projects to tackle youth entrepreneurship, he is no stranger to the entrepreneurial process. After competing in the 2019 Diamond Challenge competition, Vedavyas gained many vital skills and insights into the entrepreneurial landscape. To create their Diamond Challenge pitch, his team observed their surrounding environment to notice prevalent problems citizens deal with on a daily basis. Through extensive research, they found that modern individuals are experiencing an increased and unhealthy dependence on smartphones. To combat this widespread issue, they created Disconnect, a revolutionary app that curtails cell phone usage through the use of an incentive program. His experience in Diamond Challenge was integral to developing the same skills that they used to conceive GIYLS, providing a strong foundation to build off of for their future ventures.
Even with their prior experiences, the road to developing GIYLS was not an easy one. As teenagers trying to get this massive venture off the ground, Vedavyas and his team faced many difficult challenges. For Vedavyas, one of the most daunting aspects of the venture was just finding the willpower to get started. “I knew that this is what I wanted to do, but I was hesitant to actually take action,” he recalled. However, after realizing that this was indeed their shared passion and taking the risk to jump start their idea, the two boys began to hit their stride soon after. They focused on adopting an innovative approach to the ideation process, with Vedavyas explaining, “We tried to take the creative approach when we came across a variety of different scenarios ranging anywhere from summit planning to financial problems. This allowed us to create a brand that is focused on our community and change.” As of right now, the main challenge they are continuing to tackle is fundraising. “As a teen led venture, money is our biggest issue and there were many times we felt like it was the only thing holding us back,” Vedavyas noted. However, armed with their hard work and ingenuity, these entrepreneurs will certainly find a way to overcome these hurdles and continue paving the way for other groundbreaking ventures.
As for future plans, Vedavyas and his team are looking to further their project and continue expanding it to change young entrepreneur lives everywhere. When asked if he has any advice for potential entrepreneurs trying to break into the field, he enthusiastically replied, “Personally, I think the most important thing is to just start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re ready, just do it and you’ll never regret that you at least tried. No matter what happens, you will learn, and you will use that to push forward.” These are inspiring words that Vedavyas took to heart, and it’s pretty obvious that it paid off. He also consistently reiterates the importance of perseverance and creativity, stating: “An entrepreneur sees things differently, isn’t afraid to take risks knowing that it could drastically fail, and loves to be different and think outside the box. Creativity is huge in a successful entrepreneur and is a value that I immensely look up to.” In his eyes, anyone can become an entrepreneur–all you need is a little bit of inspiration, determination, and a genuine passion for entrepreneurship. We wish Vedavyas, Reuben and Crystal the best of luck in their venture, and cannot wait to see the amazing impact GIYLS brings to lives around the world!
No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.
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Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.