By Devon Lee
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), over 620,000 new businesses open up every year. Among these startups are those founded, and run, by Virginia Tech students.
“Entrepreneurship, for me, is this thing I fell into because of my passion for this problem, and I’ve absolutely fell in love with it,” Maria Jernigan said. “I love running a business now, and I can’t imagine my life any other way.”
Jernigan, the founder and CEO of Redshift Education, started her company while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech in 2017. Redshift Education utilizes video games to facilitate an immersive learning environment that teaches users how to speak Spanish.
For many in the startup world, Covid-19 brought along unexpected challenges. However, for MassApply, a company that builds software for jobseekers, the pandemic provided a job market that helped propel their product.
“We like kind of launched in March of 2020 and then since then, I think we got our first 5,000 users in two months,” Naman Singh, co-founder and CEO of MassApply, said. “And right now, we are at 10,000.”
Most of these founders started their businesses around a personal issue or problem they encountered. The founder of Aunt Carol’s Sauce, Tajhere Lewis, created his company to help spread his late aunt’s seafood sauce recipe and raise awareness about cancer.
“I didn’t even know Aunt Carol’s Sauce could be this big,” Lewis said. “You know when you start something, you know, you have great ambitions for it and you see a vision for it, but you don’t actually see it come into fruition.”
While there are many challenges to starting a business, these Virginia Tech students have been able to achieve success in their ventures.
“I had everything within me because I had my drive and a humility to learn what I didn’t know,” Jernigan said.