FHS Entrepreneur Team Named As Finalists In MIT Business Competition

The Franklin High School LaunchX team – left to right, Alex Pagnetti, Jahnavi Bavuluri, Shreya Pugalia and Anish Murthy – will represent the school and North America in a worldwide business competition at MIT. Photo: Shreya Pugalia.

A team from Franklin High School was one of 12 selected as international finalists from a pool of 1,000 in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Launch business competition.

The four students – Shreya Pugalia, Jahnavi Bavuluri, Anish Murthy and Alex Pagnetti – are the founders of the MIT Launch club at the school.

The team will represent Franklin High School and North America in the worldwide competition.

The MIT LaunchX program gives high school students the chance to start their own businesses while still in school. The FHS students created a company called Earth. Wind. Box, which offers a “quarterly subscription package which introduces families to environmentally sustainable products,” said Pugalia.

Customers subscribe to the service, through which they receive boxes of products every quarter, Pugalia said.

“Each box itself costs $15, however signing up for a one-year subscription brings the costs down to $55 for the entire year,” she said.

“The box has a different theme each quarter, with our current theme focusing on reducing plastic waste,” she said. “We have a partnership with Method, and we have included one of their natural hand soaps within the box for this quarter. Some of our other products include an Earth. Wind. Box-branded tote bag, disposable cups made entirely of corn, reusable sandwich bags as well as educational information on what individuals can do to lower their plastic waste.”

“To participate in the competition, our business had to follow the theme of environmental sustainability,” Pugalia said. “After lots of brainstorming we moved forward with the idea of using a subscription model to help introduce small changes to people’s lifestyles to help them become more environmentally sustainable overall. By providing people with products they can use to help lower their waste, we help them make a lifestyle change.”

The FHS team will be pitching their business to judges at the Global Demo Day April 28, and will compete for a $5,000 grant. This the first year a team from FHS has competed.

The students are “incredibly excited for the opportunity” and are thankful for the help they received from their advisors David Bitko and Brian Hurler, as well their mentor Ron Richter, Pugalia said. She said the students also received considerable help with planning the trip to MIT from FHS principal Frank Chmiel.


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