Where did this idea come from?
I came to Mr. Johnson’s class one day and he showed me the laser machine. It precisely created all these materials and engraved stuff into these materials and I thought it was really cool. I kept researching laser cutters and I then sat down and talked about it with my mother and convinced her that this would be a great investment. I enjoyed learning how to use it and creating the different designs using different softwares. And it struck me, what if I could make a business out of this and then I can give my profits to charity so that I can give back to the community. I am probably going to give it to Freedom School. I am thinking about it. I have volunteered with them through Boy Scouts. The minimum to give back is fifteen percent but I am going to give back twenty percent.
Yeti cups are a product that I have engraved. A Yeti cup is a tumbler with the little engraving sign. That is what my thing (laser cutter) does. It has twelve different materials: Acrylic, paper, wood, steel. That’s what I can use to expand.
So you get customers who want their initials on the cup?
There are quite a bit of kids that were using the laser cutter, so I got one.
We first started off with our neighbors and made three hundred dollars of sales within our first two weeks. My brother helped me out though. He helps me with the prepping process. So I will make the stuff, and then he will sell it. He is a really good salesman. It’s like a team.
What is the hardest thing to handle with this idea?
Managing extracurriculars with this business. Sometimes, I will have to stay up late to finish homework or a science project, but I have to make sure that my customers are receiving what they ordered in a timely manner.
Building up that point, how do you balance PD work?
On Sundays, we have debate, and then we have piano practice. Monday, I have Boy Scouts, and basketball. I just finished my basketball season; we were undefeated, and right now I do track. Tuesdays, I have cotillion and Bollywood dance.
Where do you see this business going into the future?
I started with my neighbors and I am hoping to get a website after Spring Market. After Spring Market goes by, I am hoping to expand with the website. I am figuring out shipping right now in including it in the price or paying when they get here.
Currently, I am only doing coasters and I am about to engrave tumblers for people, but I am hoping to do cutting boards, key chains, knives, etc. But I don't know if that would be safe to sell at school. I have engraved book covers.
What is your favorite part of this business?
I love seeing customers happy and excited. I get to make them happy and do something that I enjoy. At that rate, who would not want to do this? At that rate, you are making people happy, and making cash on the side.
What was something you were not expecting?
I wasn’t expecting how hard it was to do extracurriculars.
How do you manage that?
Making sure I do not get distracted because I get distracted very easily, so it’s almost like making sure that I stay on task and that everything is up to date and my customers are happy. I almost came up with a schedule on coming home from school sports, doing homework, and making sure that I do not forget anything. I hope to get my homework done first, once I am done, I go start on the business or go to extracurriculars. So that's what I would do.
What has been the overall effect of your business on PD and the surrounding community?
People get to enjoy personalized products while supporting a cause of an organization and whatever the person would like to have something on their product, we can just engrave it.
How did you come across laser cutting?
I talked with Mr. Johnson about his laser engravers, and they were so cool because they were so precise. It was really cool for me because I love technology, and I was thinking how cool it would be to have one of them. I sometimes go to the makerspace and work on engineering stuff and programming, and it's how I noticed the laser engraving machine.
What is one piece of advice you would give other PD students to start a business?
Do not do it for the money. I have friends who did it for the money, and they do not like it at all. So what happens is they do it for the money, and then they get burnt out. At that rate it's not fun anymore. It would feel like a chore. The whole point of social entrepreneurship is to have fun, or that's how I think about it. You should have fun while doing something you like. If you make some money off of it, that's great, but mostly for fun. You are here to have fun and learn. It's not like anyone's small business is going to become their career, so it's almost like a learning experience.
How have you felt your classes at PD helped to develop this?
Social entrepreneurship with Dr. Edge helped me out. When I started this business, I knew a little bit about social entrepreneurship. My dad has his own practice, but it's almost like I really learned how to run a successful business, and so far it is going really well.