In March, a trio of USD students known as “Threads of Green” won first place at the regional Summit of the Hult Prize competition. Since then, the trio has been working to improve their business idea for the final global accelerator round set for December in London.
The Hult Prize is an annual competition where students across the globe crowdsource business ideas meant to solve specific social issues.
Juniors Brigit Blote, Payton Ryz and Ashlyn Faye were tasked with creating a sustainable business that impacts the Earth in a positive way. To do this, they got thrifty.
The business, called Forget Me Not or Fomeno, is a mobile app that compiles and pulls data from online thrift stores. The idea is to help make second-hand shopping easier for consumers.
“Our vision for Fomeno is for the app to offer the simplest thrifting experience,” Blote said. “You type in the clothing item you’re looking for and Fomeno will find it instantly through our technology and our partnerships with online thrift stores.”
Due to COVID complications, the March regional was held virtually. Since the team’s victory, they have been focused on sculpting their image, gathering more partnerships with online thrift stores and working to finalize their app prototype. The team now has a CoyoteFunder campaign set up that has raised over $3,100 and a GoFundMe page that has raised $860.
Currently, the trio is taking steps to finalize their app and turn their business idea into a reality.
“We are now in the Accelerator, which is a 12-week program where we have interactive learning Zoom sessions every day to give us further tools for building our team, business validation, making our first sale, and topics like that,” Ryz said. “We want our business brand and mission to be inclusive to everyone.”
Blote expressed that the biggest issue facing the team and their preparation for London right now is committing time to the project.
“We are all student-athletes, so figuring out how to juggle sports, studies and all things Hult Prize has been a unique task. But each week we are learning from last and are doing the best we can,” said Blote.
Aside from time constraints, last semester’s COVID break made it hard for the team to make connections and spread the word about their business.
“Here on campus we really want to spread the word on who we are and what we are up to,” Ryz said. “Around the time that we won the regional event we were all sent home because of COVID so we really want to get the school involved and hyped about what we are up to. It’s feedback from our peers that really helps validate our business.”
Since returning, the trio has been able to lean on members of the university and the Vermillion community in order to help put the best foot forward for the finals.
Blote credited USD sports photographer Madisen Martinez for creating marketing and media content for the team, professors Meghann Jarchow and Gregort Bertsch for mentorship and help finding network connections, fellow junior Katie Brust for designing a logo and the USD foundation for help with crowdsourcing funds.
For more information on Fomeno and Threads of Green, you can visit their Instagram page (@threads_of _green) or their website at www.thriftfomeno.com.