Colby Rapson, Gr. 11, and teammates from various schools took first place at the Enterprise Leadership Conference March 11-13. The conference is a yearly event held by the San Jose Rotary Club, in which students spend three days drafting and presenting a business plan for a product they create themselves. Students from each participating school are randomly distributed into different teams.
Rapson’s company, The 9th Degree, came up with a product known as the WheelAwake. “It is a steering wheel mechanism that has sensors on it that collect heart rate and breathing rate data the first thirty seconds that a driver is in the car,” Rapson said. “The rest of the car ride, it senses for a threshold drop in heart or breathing rate. In order to prevent the driver from dozing off at the wheel, it sends vibrations through the steering wheel and sounds an alarm to the driver.”
Rapson’s team planned to use the services of an angel investor to get star ted. “Our business plan was extremely intricate, but our company, The 9th Degree, planned to start locally in the first year and extend to the entire nation by the third year,” said Rapson, who was chosen to be the CEO of her company. “Therefore, our profits would really star t to come in by the third year. Once we star ted up, we planned on advertising our product through partnerships with schools, DMVs and insurance companies.”
Although the members of Rapson’s group at first didn’t seem to have a lot of common ground, they quickly rallied behind their idea. “We all fell into our places and contributed a huge amount to the group progress,” she said. “Everything went really smoothly; we worked so cohesively that everything came together in the end and our final presentation showed the judges how seriously we took the competition.”