Hayley Hoverter is a mentee of Roozt’s Chief Dreamer; Brent Freeman. Through the next couple months, Hayley will be sharing her thoughts with us on her journey to becoming a social entrepreneur, vowing to help reduce world waste by developing and launching her own eco-conscious business; Sweet (dis)Solve.
It is our pleasure to share with you the first of many guest blog posts by Hayley Hoverter, 16 years old:
My LLC, Sweet (dis)Solve, is a sales and marketing eco-friendly product company for soluble sugar packages. The product is sold to help eradicate the paper waste in cafes that would otherwise feed into landfills and contribute to pollution.
One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in starting my business is convincing people that I, as only a sophomore in high school, will be able to take on the “giants,” such as Splenda and Sugar in the Raw. From the beginning, I worried that I would be fighting an uphill battle.
However, I have a personal connection to my product that my competitors lack. When I was about six years old, my mother worked an opening shift at Starbucks. I went with her to work before school started. It seemed so clean and chic; business looking people would come in and order their drinks. I thought it was a representation of the trendy adult world. But I also remember that Starbucks’ popularity generated a never-ending flow of bags and bags of trash that had to be ushered out the back door. I remember that, next to the self-service station, trash was always taken out quickly, as if to keep it a secret from the customers.
Since I go to a business magnet high school, one of my electives this past school year revolved around a business plan competition. It was sponsored by NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. I tried to channel my exposure to the ugliness of consumerism when I was younger into developing a business plan that demonstrates social awareness. As I was affected by the excessive waste in coffee shops, I felt that the class was my calling. I wanted to be the person who corrected this wrong.
Despite my drive and dedication to what my product was fighting for (saving the environment), I was shocked that I ended up winning four consecutive competitions. My success is greatly attributed to my mentors, who helped me discover my potential and “entrepreneurial spirit.” Brent Freeman, the founder of Roozt.com, was unyieldingly encouraging throughout the development of my business plan. His and others’ optimism helped me gain confidence in my abilities as a businesswoman and a philanthropist—which is the best gift I could have ever received. The expression “your network is your net worth” is relevant to me; it sums up my experience as an entrepreneur thus far.
I will be advancing to NFTE’s national competition in October of 2011 in New York City. I have a chance to win $10,000 (1st place) and to meet Obama. If I were to win 1st place, the money would go to starting up my business – making the first sales, covering overhead, etc.
I am grateful for this tremendous, enticing opportunity to learn about my community, businesses, and—most of all—myself.