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Swimming with the Sharks

Update:
Kaeya survived the Shark Tank and secured an investment from Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, for $50,000 for a 40% stake in her company. ABC saved Kaeya's appearance for the final pitch of the 5th season of the show, as emotions and excitement surely gripped the audience. Congratulations to Kaeya! All at Emory can't wait to see what's next from this young entrepreneur.



Meet Kaeya Majmundar 15C, rising senior and entrepreneur extraordinaire, who's about to have her 15 minutes of fame. Kaeya is not only a standout student, dynamic leader, and winner of a national entrepreneurial competition, but now a reality television star too. On the May 16 season finale episode of Shark Tank, Kaeya will have the chance to pitch her invention, the BZbox to the celebrity investors and the viewing public. Make sure to tune in, Friday, May 16 8|7c, ABC TV.

It's May 2012, and Kaeya and her roommate are running late. It is the end of their freshman year and they are frantically packing their dorm room. As they fill cardboard boxes with a year's worth of textbooks, dorm decorations, apparel, and memories, Kaeya watches in horror as all of the contents keep spilling out. She comes to the realization that the boxes have not been assembled properly. Frustrated and harried, Kaeya rushes to finish her moving out. However, the issues with the boxes don't fade from her memory. When she returns home to Chicago for the summer, she begins to seriously contemplate a solution to a problem she was sure she was not the first to experience.

The answer came to her in the form of a simple paper crane. While watching her sister fold origami, Kaeya crafted the concept for a durable, foldable cardboard packing box that doesn't require assembly. BZbox is born. "I wanted to simplify the packing process, increase efficiency, and save money," Kaeya says stating the mission of her invention. From dorm room packing issues and the inspiration of origami, comes the solution for the busy packer, the college student heading home, the family packing for a move, or an employee responsible for packing thousands of items each day.

Admittedly not a "business-oriented person," Kaeya spent the summer building prototypes and watching ever episode of Shark Tank, a reality TV show where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel of potential investors (the "sharks"). While conducting research on filing patents, she stumbled upon Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization's National Elevator Pitch Competition, and decided to submit her pitch.

In less than a week, her video had nearly 60,000 views. From hundreds of applicants, most of whom were students pursuing business degrees, Kaeya was selected as one of 60 finalists to fly to Chicago to compete. After numerous rounds of presenting to a panel of influential CEOs and entrepreneurs (including John E. Hughes, Chairman of the Coleman Foundation and Jeff Hoffman, CEO of priceline.com), Kaeya won the competition.

Following her victory, Kaeya applied to Shark Tank by submitting two sentences and a pitch video to the producers of the show. She'd nearly forgotten about applying when she finally received a call months later from the producers. Thinking the California area code was her cousin calling, she answered the call and learned that out of the 80,000+ applicants to the show, she had been one of 114 selected for filming.

The Emory Experience
Much of Kaeya's successes stem from her hard work, creative mind, and innovative spirit. Yet her journey has also been supported by her time at Emory. In her senior year of high school, Kaeya was heavily considering another university in her hometown of Chicago. The daughter of two physicians, at that time Kaeya thought she wanted to study medicine, but she was also passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. She was nervous about committing to a specific track of study, and not having the flexibility to change her mind or pursue other ventures.

Emory's liberal arts core, esteemed pre-med track, and top-ranking business school were all attractive to Kaeya as she weighed her college options. Kaeya ultimately decided Emory was the place where she would have the best resources to explore her diverse interests. At Emory, she's been able to draw from the various schools and degree programs to gain the most from her undergraduate experience. She has taken courses that have challenged her to think critically, analyze problems, and disrupt convention, such as Economic Development in Africa and Entrepreneurship through the Goizueta Business School. Interestingly, assignments in both classes included starting new business ventures.

One of these is a jewelry company, Ringlee, an idea that came to her in her junior year and has already launched. Ringlee produces custom rings with symbols and images. As a project for her Economic Development in Africa class, Kaeya has partnered with United Sounds of Africa, a concert promoter for African Artists touring North America, to create rings with bands' symbols and photos. A portion of all profits goes towards a fund to help build a school in Africa and to providing micro loans to new businesses.

Since she has been at Emory, Kaeya has been a prominent advocate for entrepreneurship among students. After hearing a speech from Ajay Nair, the Senior Vice President and Dean of Student and Campus Life, about making entrepreneurship a student initiative, Kaeya met with him to brainstorm. She now serves as a member of the Entrepreneurship Committee, headed by Dean Nair, as well as the Social Entrepreneurship Committee. This committee is working toward building the living-learning community for the new freshman residence hall Raul. Kaeya will be a Resident Advisor in this new dorm and will be responsible for planning various programs and mentoring students with interests in entrepreneurship. She is working with the administration to address the needs of student entrepreneurs, including an incubator space with a 3D printer, and other resources where students can come together to create and build their ideas.

 "I have a million ideas a minute; everywhere I turn I see potential," Kaeya says, laughing. "I love the idea of making something from nothing." But there is a theme to her ventures. Where others see inevitable problems, Kaeya sees potential solutions; and at Emory, she's helping others see them, too.