Two Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) students are making a business out of helping others volunteer.
Page High senior Delaney Miller and Independence High senior Mikiela Garcia-Halbig are the creators of VolunTeens, a website that connects willing volunteers with nonprofits who need help for their cause. The idea came from Delaney’s difficulty in finding ways to get the volunteer hours required to graduate from Page High.
“Our overarching goal is to help both the organizations who need volunteers and the teens who are looking for ways to get involved,” said Delaney. “We want to make it mutually beneficial, and we know VolunTeens can do that.”
VolunTeens wasn’t their original business pitch. Delaney and Mikiela started their first year at the EIC selling customizable trail mixes at markets. However, the pandemic required them to pivot. Luckily, the EIC gave them the skills needed to do so.
“The EIC is unique because it allows us to learn by doing,” said Mikiela. “It teaches you everything you need to know. I had never taken a business class before, but the EIC makes it fun and very real-world.”
VolunTeens initially began as an Instagram page and has since expanded. Delaney and Mikiela are seeing the results of their idea and recently pitched their idea to the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Williamson, Inc.
“We were invited to this opportunity only two weeks before the pitch date, which motivated us to work expediently to finish our website, an informational flyer for organizations and a rough outline of our pitch,” said Delaney. “Thankfully, the presentation was successful. Since then, we receive emails every day from different organizations wanting to learn more about VolunTeens.”
Their journey has not been without its struggles. Initially, it was difficult for Delaney and Mikiela to spread the word about their business as they attempted to reach both teenagers who want to volunteer and organizations with volunteer opportunities.
“Our immediate challenge is to grow both sides at the same time,” said Delaney. “Hopefully, we can keep those two even: the groups who need assistance and the teenagers who are eager and able to fill those roles.”
As Delaney and Mikiela continue growing their business, they have advice for those are looking for a place to start. They suggest beginning with something you enjoy doing and to not be afraid of failure.
“We pivoted two times prior to VolunTeens,” Mikiela said. “Something we’ve learned over the two years of entrepreneurship is to not be afraid to completely start over.”