West Chester University senior Hannah Karaman has a passion for entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and sustainability. She received honors from two business idea competitions hosted this April by West Chester University’s Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center.
Karaman took the top prize in the Social Innovation Competition with her idea for Second Hand Celebrations and first place in the undergraduate track of the Business Idea Competition for her idea for Women in Business.
Filling a Market Gap
Karaman, a management major, describes Second Hand Celebrations as an online, sustainable registry that will make it easy to give/receive sustainable gifts for important life events, such as weddings and baby showers. Partnering with resale platforms like eBay and Poshmark, Second Hand Celebrations makes it convenient for clients to purchase second hand gifts. It will be the only option in the market where clients can click links in a gift registry to directly purchase second hand gifts.
“I came up with this idea because I noticed that there is a major gap in the market,” she said. “There are millions of people who prefer to only buy/use second hand items. However, there are no options for them to create an online gift registry in which their guests can easily purchase second hand gifts.”
Support of Women-Owned Businesses
Karaman plans to continue working on her business idea and building a network in the sustainability industry.
She scored her second coup with a win in the undergraduate track of the Cottrell Center’s Business Idea Competition. Her proposed concept would support Women in Business (WIB) organizations at universities and high schools across the country by creating a 501(c)(3) Women in Business non-profit organization that would support WIB chapters.
Karaman has been involved with WCU’s WIB club for four years and helped grow the organization from fewer than 10 students attending biweekly meetings to more than 100 students. She recognized the organization’s need for assistance with funding, resources, and guidance and devised a non-profit solution.
WIB members develop professionally, cultivate connections, and learn the importance of leadership, community service, networking, and more. WIB helps members with building their resumes, expanding their networks, and developing a personal brand. The club hosts representatives from local businesses and well-known corporations to engage University women in empowering, elevating, and promoting one another to create and live their best success story.
“My entrepreneurship minor prepared me for these competitions because I was able to work through my business ideas in my classes,” Karaman said. “I had experience in my classes with creating pitch decks, and the entrepreneurship professors were very willing to help me prepare for my presentations.”
Upcycling and Reselling
Karaman already operates her own business, Retail Therapy Thrift, an Instagram account dedicated to upcycling and reselling local thrift shop finds. She’s also a marketing intern at LLUNA, an HR tech startup, where she will take on a full-time marketing position working directly with the CEO after graduation. She hopes to use the knowledge she gains to build her own startup in the next few years.
Developing Entrepreneurial Ideas
This is the second year for the Social Innovation Competition, which is open to all West Chester University undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff. It was created to encourage participants from diverse disciplines to develop an entrepreneurial idea that addresses and solves significant social or environmental problems. Ideas must be related to at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which you can view here. This year’s competition was hosted by The Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, The Office of Sustainability, The Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, and PRME. The gold sponsor of the WCU Social Innovation Idea Competition was TD Bank.
WCU’s Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center fosters entrepreneurship across West Chester University and throughout Chester County by preparing students to contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing access to a rich network of entrepreneurship resources and enhancing the startup and growth of new ventures to develop a strong WCU entrepreneurship culture and a vibrant Chester County entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Now in its 11th year, WCU’s Annual Business Idea Competition promotes creativity, idea generation, and entrepreneurship by recognizing innovative ideas for new products, services, and technology. It is hosted by the Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic, and the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce.
Learn more at West Chester University.