Solupal, a biodegradable, water-soluble buying bag, has gained St. Thomas junior Amy Helgeson plenty of recognition within the entrepreneurship group due to its success, however Solupal’s operations have been halted when the thought was stolen by the producer the corporate had been working with for 3 years.
Solupal had gotten into shops and was working internationally within the Philippines, however when the bag wasn’t chosen for Goal, Walmart and CVS’s “Past the Bag” initiative, the corporate went out of enterprise and left the Solupal crew confused.
“We have been like, ‘wait, how can this be as a result of our thought is fairly sound, it’s very sustainable, it’s straightforward to implement,’” Helgeson stated. “After we seemed, we discovered that the producer that we’ve been working with for the previous three years ended up submitting their very own utility to Goal and ended up getting accepted.”
Helgeson began Solupal in 2017, which earned her a finalist place within the 2018 Minnesota Cup in addition to landed her a spot on Minne Inno’s below 25 entrepreneurship listing in 2020.
These successes have been large for Solupal, however Helgeson and her co-founder Hufsa Ahmad nonetheless confronted the powerful blow of getting their thought stolen. Helgeson stated this failure helped them understand their errors when rising Solupal.
“We have been naive,” Helgeson stated. “We didn’t go and have nondisclosure agreements with completely different people who we have been speaking to. We didn’t take a few of these steps to actually defend mental property.”
Helgeson stated the loss was disappointing as a result of she had initially considered the initiative as one thing that would take Solupal to the subsequent degree, however as an alternative, it grew to become its downfall. The work they’d executed was misplaced, they usually have been left little room for future success.
“We couldn’t do something about it. They’ve all of the sources, they’ve the entire plant themselves,” Helgeson stated.
Total, Helgeson stated the loss taught her quite a bit, and she or he hopes to make use of the expertise in her future endeavors.
“It was slap within the face to know that is what the actual world is like, and it’s not simply individuals at all times attempting to do what’s greatest for you,” Helgeson stated.
Helgeson stated she loved her time rising Solupal, which began as a result of she observed what number of plastic luggage the boutique she labored at used.
“To see that a lot plastic being wasted each single day was very irritating,” Helgeson stated.
She introduced the issue to her entrepreneurship membership at college, the place they discovered a fabric referred to as polyvinyl alcohol, which is identical coating utilized in Tide Pods. They used this materials to create Solupal luggage.
“We knew we needed to make a distinction and remove the usage of plastic,” Helgeson stated.
Beginning this enterprise was not a simple feat as a result of Helgeson struggled to get producers to imagine in her.
“We referred to as a bunch of producers. I acquired hung up on quite a bit,” Helgeson stated. “That’s one thing that I’ll always remember, is how usually enterprise individuals understand college students as being not legit sufficient… it was form of loopy what number of instances we might get shut down only for being tremendous younger.”
This didn’t cease Helgeson and her crew. They saved calling producers till they discovered a match.
“She’s a passionate one that actually cares about making a distinction,” Affiliate Professor and Affiliate Dean of the St. Thomas Schulze Faculty of Entrepreneurship Laura Dunham stated. “Amy is a superb instance of any individual who jumps proper in fearlessly (and) takes benefit of each alternative.”
Earlier than she arrived at St. Thomas, Helgeson turned heads. She was urged by Dunham to use for the Schulze Innovation Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship. Helgeson earned this scholarship for her work on Skyrocket, an entrepreneurship class for senior residents, and Solupal in addition to impressing the Schulze college board.
“When she got here in, all people was blown away by (and) simply beloved her,” Dunham stated about Helgeson’s interview.
Although Helgeson has had her justifiable share of successes, she stated that entrepreneurship additionally comes with plenty of failures.
“We at all times say fail quick and fail usually,” Helgeson stated. “You’re not going to get the proper startup instantly.”
By way of failures, Helgeson stated she has had the chance to study and develop extra.
“It’s not all enjoyable and rainbows, there’s plenty of stuff that occurs,” Helgeson stated. “Even when one thing units you again, it’s simply making you stronger and educating you a brand new lesson.”
Helgeson stated she continues to have motivation and keenness for creating new tasks and attempting to develop as an entrepreneur.
“We create to assist individuals. We create to make the world a greater place,” Helgeson stated. “Life is difficult, and so is entrepreneurship. However when you have the precise individuals by your facet supporting you and getting you thru it, that’s truthfully, on the finish of the day, the most effective factor.”
Scout Mason may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.