As the Assistant Director at the TU Incubator, I have the privilege of working with a wonderful group of entrepreneurs with big ideas and the desire to make a real impact. This is especially true for our education technology members. Muhammad Najee-ullah, founder of Pelican Fly Concepts, is a great example.
Recently Muhammad gave me his thoughts on being an entrepreneur.
Five Questions with Pelican Fly Concepts founder Muhammad Najee-ullah.
1. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? My experiences as a youth in Baltimore shaped my entrepreneurial perspective. I embarked on a journey that taught me the basics of human psychology, sales, marketing, hard work, persistence, and frugality. I carried grocery bags from cart to car, shoveled snow, raked leaves, cut grass, ran errands for local store owners, and more. All of which provided me a “Lean” entrepreneurial perspective on business and generally prepared me to ask the right questions and creatively solve problems. Entrepreneurship seemed the natural vehicle for me to pursue implementation of social solutions.
2. Tell me about your product? The FullBlast STEAM Design/Build/Compete Workshops and Gaming Events are a community-based intervention designed to bridge the tech divide and transform the youth culture in Baltimore. STEAM is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Our three-pronged goal summary is as follows:
- Engage youth, parents and a variety of hobbyists in a unique six track curriculum of design/build projects introducing them to 3D printing, robotics, programming/coding, arts, game design, and construction.
- Engage teams of youths from various “in” and “out of school” programs in tournament competitions against both the opposing teams and against the interactive elements within the Portable Gaming Grounds they help to create.
- Repeat the process, with every new workshop series and traveling gaming event being upgraded with new open source technologies and unique, cool features in order to continuously attract, educate, and entertain the community.
3. What makes your product unique? The FullBlast STEAM gaming events merge edutainment, gaming, and sporting into a smart environment platform, incorporating a variety of new technologies in the game play that both upgrades the interactive excitement and the ability to generate and evaluate learning data.
The establishment of a “tournament style” network of after school youth program affiliated teams across Baltimore and the region will create an interest and excitement around STEAM comparable to the enthusiasm generated around the spectating of professional sports.
FullBlast teams will be comprised of individuals from across socioeconomic and age classifications, all incentivized to study and practice together in preparation for the upcoming competition events in the portable gaming grounds. These are safe, positive environments in which anyone can play, learn, win prizes and create new innovations that contribute to the game play.
4. What do you see as the big challenges going forward? I expect there will continue to be challenges at every stage of our evolution as a company, we are currently in a prototype development stage, working with partners and volunteers to develop tech and implement our marketing strategy, while attracting sponsors and seed investment. However keeping the team focused on project completion with only meager resources is currently our biggest challenge.
5. How has becoming a TU Incubator member company helped your business? I have received valuable tailored guidance on my presentation and next steps, a framework for pursuing the TEDCO (TCF) grant application process, and access to a wealth of human resources in the Edtech space.
Bonus Question: What are your ambitions for Pelican Fly Concepts? By applying this “FullBlast S.T.E.A.M.” intervention to the social architecture of local communities we will bridge the tech divide and influence positive change in youth culture. We look forward to providing significant value for the residents and businesses of Baltimore, the region, and the nation.