Golden Bears’ venture into entrepreneurship
By Will Price, ’18 and Molly Mitchell, ’20
SAVY: DISHA SHIDHAM
Less than four years ago, DISHA SHIDHAM was walking the hallways as a junior at UAHS. While sitting through a lecture in her AP European History class, she glanced at a nearby student’s laptop.
“I noticed one of my classmates shopping online in a rather peculiar manner,” Shidham said. “She was manually tracking the prices of products she was interested in.”
That observation sparked the idea for her startup company and app, Savy, which was launched soon after Shidham’s high school days were finished. The plan for Savy was simple: make online shopping easier for shoppers while also providing customer feedback that would help sales for stores.
“[Savy] allows window shoppers to enter their prices for items they love: Savy emails shoppers once that product reaches their price,” Shidham said.
Shidham didn’t start her journey unprepared. She went through numerous entrepreneurship programs, locally and in Silicon Valley, that gave her knowledge and experience.
As for advice for current Golden Bears, Shidham suggests getting out and trying new things.
“Take initiative and get out of the bubble,” Shidham said. “It will be difficult, but in my opinion, all of the trials and tribulations are far outweighed by the joy of doing something that you are passionate about.”
Shidham believes one of the keys to her success so far has been authenticity, especially as a female in her industry.
“It can be hard sometimes to have your voice heard, but you can’t ever be afraid to speak up and be your authentic self,” Shidham said. “The times I’ve failed were when I was trying to fit a mold of who I thought I was supposed to be. It’s amazing what authenticity can do when you’re trying to lead and influence others.”
As for future plans, Savy currently has a paid trial running with Half United, a clothing store based in North Carolina where she currently resides.
The trial for Savy will run through November, and then they raise an initial round of funding.
“I’m really excited for what’s to come,” Shidam said. “It’s been awesome getting to this point, and I don’t expect to stop yet.”
GIFTPOCKET: BROOKE YOAKAM
While her peers stress about Halloween parties and finishing AP Government homework, sophomore BROOKE YOAKAM, academic superstar and 15-year-old businesswoman, works towards developing her own mobile app. Yoakam manages a blog, frequently goes to meetings in the middle of the school day, and speaks at business conferences, all to promote her app.
Yoakam discusses what it is like to manage a business while still in high school.
Q: What is GiftPocket?
YOAKAM: GiftPocket is a mobile app that you can store your gift cards on. Then, with these gift cards, you can pay with them at stores [from the app]. You can convert your unwanted gift cards into GP Pocket Points, and with these points, you can buy gift cards that you actually want to use.
Q: What gave you the idea of GiftPocket?
YOAKAM: What gave me the idea for GiftPocket is when I would go shopping with my friends, we would walk into a store and be like “Oh, I have a gift card for this store but left it at my house.” So, because we always have our phones with us, why not have an app that can store all of our gift cards? That gave me the problem that I needed to solve, which eventually evolved into GiftPocket.
Q: I noticed that you spend time out of school working on GiftPocket.
YOAKAM: Yes, outside of school, I work on GiftPocket at Rev1 Ventures, which is a venture capital firm that helps entrepreneurs. There, I have been going step-by-step through a lot of editing of the app to make sure it is perfect and doing user testing to make sure people actually want my app. After getting approved by Apple, we are getting ready for our launch. It’s pretty exciting.
Q: I noticed that you spoke at a few business conferences. What is it like to speak at conferences in front of adults?
YOAKAM: It’s definitely very nerve-wracking, but I actually kind of enjoy it because I get validation from other people rather than my peers. I like to hear that peope will actually use my app and like it.
Q: As a teenage businesswoman, what would you like to tell other teens interested in starting their own companies?
YOAKAM: I just want to tell my peers that if you have any ideas or dreams that you have, just try to follow through with them because if I didn’t believe in myself I wouldn’t be able to start my own app.