INCubator members find alternative to final pitch event


Zia Rashed

Team ‘Indus Naturals’ conducts digital focus group for product feedback and advice

Priya Gregerson, Co-Editor

Giving everything your all is the biggest commitment, especially when things take a turn. The Incubator program faced a series of unexpected events due to the COVID-19 pandemic after working on developing a business since October 2019. 

“I was really sad when we found out we weren’t going back to school,” senior Zia Rashed said. “I thought that it might happen but I really really didn’t want to want it to especially because of senior year. I knew we’re going to be missing senior breakfast and graduation and all the fun senior things during second semester.” 

The INCubator program initially had planned for final pitches to be held in the school PAC, but after the shelter in place order, pitches will be in video format and sent to the judges today. If teams earn at least $1,000 in funding from the judges, they will be eligible to advance into Accelerator. 

“It’s been great to continue to get to see and work with students during this time,” Lucas said. “I know it has been a struggle for a lot of students because it’s something they have never done before & it has required a lot more self-management, but so many have really made the best of it. I know we both look forward to meeting with the students everyday.”

Teams met on applications such as Zoom meetings in order to manage their companies. INCubator teachers Erin Lucas and Erin Mathis have spent many hours working with each team in digital meetings. 

“It got very confusing after we had to work on our business from home,” Rashed said. “My team definitely wasn’t quick to make adjustments but we eventually figured it out and became really flexible with the new changes.” 

Rashed is the CMO of her business, Indus Naturals- a natural Ayurvedic skincare company. She was inspired by a part of her childhood when her mother and grandmother would use natural ingredients like turmeric and yogurt to create face masks. Both Rashed and junior Aimee Jones said they were nervous final pitches would be cancelled after the school closed. 

“We kinda felt like all of our hard work had been for nothing,” Jones said. “We worked really hard on this idea for a long time and we thought that we weren’t going to get the opportunity to show off our hard work. However, as a team we persevered through the obstacles. We met weekly on zoom calls with our mentor and as a team.”

Jones’ company is called Casamento. Casamento is a customizable welcome box for brides to gift to their wedding guests. Including things like local Austin goods, an emergency kit, and a note from the wedding party, our box is meant for making guests feel at home. They’ve been advancing with this business idea since Mentor Match day (mentioned in a previous story).

“Overall, I thought that this was a good learning experience because life throws you many obstacles and you have to persevere and move on,” Jones said. “We are super excited to show the judges our pitch video because we put so much work into the pitch and the slideshow.”