International Win for Sanford Sophomore’s Entrepreneurial Team
Sanford sophomore Rai Kahlon and his team placed third in the University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship’s international Diamond Challenge Summit competition held in late April 2022. The Summit marked the culmination of the Diamond Challenge’s program, where high school students developed solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges to compete for monetary prizes and a chance to network with a global community of entrepreneurs.
Amanrai (Rai) Kahlon, along with Ruhan Patel (Charter School of Wilmington), Suyash Singh (Caravel Academy), and Amrita Tailor (Charter School of Wilmington), supported by adult advisor Mona Singh, took third place in the Social Innovation Track. They received $3,750 to be used as venture funding or for higher education scholarships.
A total of 2,000 students in 700 teams representing 37 countries and 28 states participated in early rounds of the challenge. Sixty-four semifinalist teams competed in the Summit at UD, 42 in person and 22 virtually.
Rai’s team pitched their original concept Chiron, an education technology platform designed to amplify the health literacy needs of incarcerated people. Chiron uses interactive medical education to empower and encourage inmates to take control of and manage their chronic medical conditions. It is named for Greek mythology’s centaur of wisdom and medicine.
Rai has been part of the Sanford community for two years and advisor Mona Singh notes, “Sanford students are encouraged to pursue paths that may not have a delineated end goal, meaning the journey can be as important as the destination. Sanford also encourages its students to be strong advocates and to develop relationships with the adults in their lives. Those are key skills that benefited Rai in his Diamond Challenge experience,” explains Singh.
“Diamond Challenge is a giant cross-curricular Project-Based Learning exercise. This team brought a nascent set of complementary skills to the task. They started from scratch in 2020 with an idea based on a need they heard about and iterated from there,” recalls Singh.
“Beyond developing their entrepreneurial concepts, the Diamond Challenge helped foster conversations between teens from around the world and adult business professionals through interactive workshops and social opportunities,” notes Singh.
“Idea iteration, interviewing, business plan development, content writing, platform graphic design and workflow, pitching, relationships management—these are all skills the kids developed,” says Singh. “They mined their connections and followed leads. Working in a project manager capacity, Rai learned to develop a timeline, delegate tasks, schedule and run professional meetings with some pretty impressive adults, and then follow-up with tasks coming out of these meetings. The team had consultations with business, government, and healthcare leaders in the correctional healthcare space, developing a business plan and a value proposition and pursuing feedback from both a local CFO and an angel investor. As team advisor, I see tremendous growth in these kids.”
Horn Entrepreneurship is the focal point for entrepreneurship education and advancement at UD and has a network of more than 20,000 alumni, 1,800 educators, and 60 organizations. According to their site, it’s “currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US” with the goal of “empowering aspiring innovators to pursue new ideas for a better world.”
The Diamond Challenge is based on the emerging science of entrepreneurship—a combination of academic research as well as real-world and industry best practices. Dan Freeman, Horn Entrepreneurship and Diamond Challenge founder, says the program “places relatively heavy emphasis on the holistic development of the mindsets and skill sets associated with evidence-based entrepreneurship practices. This includes gathering primary evidence from a startup team’s customer discovery research and reflections on the team members’ direct, first-hand experiences. It also includes insights from secondary research and industry best practices for creating, delivering and capturing value from new ideas.”
“Evidence-based entrepreneurship (aka – lean startup methods) has been widely disseminated into entrepreneurship education programs—both inside and outside of the business school,” adds Freeman. “They are also widely used in industry. Part of the purpose of the Diamond Challenge is to introduce high school students to evidence-based entrepreneurship, which is akin to applying the scientific method to the process of creative, real world problem solving.”