Students, alumni convene at HW Venture Impact event

Hannah Han

In an effort to teach students about social entrepreneurship, HW Venture Impact hosted its kickoff event March 4 in Chalmers East and West.

HW Venture Impact Co-Founders Amaan Furniturewala ’21 and Alec Katz ’19 invited five alumni speakers, all of whom began organizations to serve their respective communities.  The event allowed applicants for the upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship to learn from experienced business owners and receive feedback on their proposals, Furniturewala said.

To begin the event, Group Brand Director of Minds Matter of Los Angeles Jon Levine introduced the fundamental ideas behind entrepreneurship.

“Social entrepreneurship is taking social and environmental impact and bringing that together with commercial methods that are financially stable,” Levine said. “You can have a vision to make as much money as possible, but you can also want to do something good in the world, and it’s really finding how these things intersect.”

When presenting their business, Co-Founders of Clear Health Advisors Dr. Valerie Ulene and Byrdie Pompan also explained their mission to provide thorough medical counseling to mitigate the risk of misdiagnosis, a leading cause of death.  Ulene, a former medical journalist at the Los Angeles Times, connected with Pompan, who had been misdiagnosed years earlier, through HW Venture.

“The conceit of our business was that if you have a diagnosis that you feel is not being appropriately treated, then there is a need for a third party, [who is] preferably not a family member,” Pompan said.  “Otherwise, there are a lot of emotions that are involved. There was a real opportunity for business here, but also a need to help people navigate our healthcare system and get them to the best doctors.”

Following Pompan and Ulene’s presentation, Apryl Sims introduced Simply Wholesome, a health-food store that she renovated with her late father. Since his passing, Simply Wholesome has grown and now supports over one hundred independent vendors of color, as well as marginalized and disabled individuals.

“My father put his heart and soul in [Simply Wholesome], and it was a physical reminder for me and my children to see that structure,” Sims said. “I had a vested interest to make sure that business stayed there, so that I could point to the restaurant and tell my children, ‘This is what your grandfather did.’”

Sims also recently launched Apryl’s Life in a Bottle, a nonprofit organization that sells cold-pressed raw juices packaged by previously incarcerated people who hope to reintegrate into society.  Sims said she will begin selling her bottled juices at both the middle and upper school cafeterias, and will contribute the profits to students who receive financial aid.

Lastly, founder of The Meaning Foundation Taylor Adams presented his company’s goal to serve underprivileged, formerly incarcerated individuals and aid them in finding meaningful job opportunities.

To close the event, HW Venture Impact provided a catered meal for attendees.  Students also brainstormed ideas for the upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship proposals due Friday.

HW Venture Impact Co-Founders Amaan Furniturewala ’21 and Alec Katz ’19 began organizing the event in December.

“We sent out a lot of emails to coordinate with alumni and advertised to the middle and upper schools,” Furniturewala said. “We wanted to inspire students to found their own social ventures and give them a framework to do so.”