By Douglas Fehlen
School: Middlebury College
Lesson: Tap the power of your passion.
Passion is exactly what Corrine Prevot has to thank for her status as one of the Forbes All-Star Student Entrepreneurs. A junior at Middlebury College in Vermont, Corrine is an avid cross-country skier who struck upon an idea to reinvent a crucial cold-weather accessory: the winter hats that are so important to skiers on the trail. The young entrepreneur relied on her expert sewing skills to create a line of fashionable headwear after she could not find a style she liked. 'The hats I found were all kind of black and knitted,' Corrine said in a Forbes interview.
While she began making her hats in high school, Corrine's business took off during college. She enrolled in an entrepreneurship class as a freshman that offered guidance on how to grow her hat enterprise, including how to source materials, market products and build relationships with retailers. Today, her Skida brand apparel can be found in stores across the U.S.
School: University of Pittsburgh
Lesson: Being environmentally friendly can pay.
Electric cars are hot commodities among people looking to cut fuel costs, and soon consumers may have an accessible electric option that comes in two wheels. Micah Toll at the University of Pittsburgh is looking to revolutionize the work or school commute for millions of people. The proposed Personal Electric Vehicle Zero (PEV0) - a fully powered bike-like device - can cover 15-30 miles on one charge. Micah is the cofounder and CEO of Pulse Motors, which has finished beta testing its PEV0.
Micah has not stopped innovating at the eco-friendly design of his company's signature product. In addition to offering the vehicles for purchase, Pulse Motors features a novel leasing option that's designed to lower price barriers. The idea: Get people who have passed on electric technology because of cost on board with green commuting.
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School: Arizona State University
Lesson: A desire to do good can drive innovation.
What if a steel shipping container could be converted into a self-contained clinic? This is the hypothetical that Arizona State University Gabriella Palermo asked in response to a very real humanitarian demand. In international medical relief or disaster response efforts, such a container might serve as a sanitary, safe place where people could be treated for life-threatening conditions. The idea has garnered high praise from Entrepreneur Magazine, which said Gabriella's concept 'represents the future of entrepreneurship: a winning combination of innovation, philanthropy and environmental responsibility.'
Gabriella's nonprofit organization - called G3Box, or Generating Global Containers for Good - has some high-minded goals. The group has pledged to use funds raised from the sale of its product to donate clinics to countries with high maternal death rates.
School: Babson College
Lesson: Use determination to persevere over challenges.
Chris Jacobs recently graduated from Babson College, a business school in Massachusetts that features widely renowned entrepreneurship programs. Chris was quite at home at the school, a young entrepreneur himself with multiple business startups to his credit - two of which he started while completing his degree. His successful direct-mail business earned Chris a job offer from the biggest direct-mail company in the U.S. He turned the job down, continuing with his degree and creating a renewable energy firm called Emergent Energy Group.
One might think that Chris's success has come easily, but that isn't necessarily true. In fact, the young entrepreneur has struggled with dyslexia since third grade. 'I really struggled through school,' Chris told online economic news source DailyFinance. The learning disability has not held him back, though, and the world can expect more innovation from Chris in the future.