Jo Carter, a recently graduated senior from Lindenwold, NJ (Camden County), has always been full of ideas, but when she first transferred from Albright College, she wasn’t quite sure how to bring them to life. “I came to Rowan as an Exploratory Studies major, (within the College of Humanities & Social Sciences) unsure of what I wanted to do after graduation,” she says. “I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be my own boss, which required getting into business. I decided to explore entrepreneurship after looking into the college of business, since that is what I was most interested in. And the rest is history!”
An article Jo came across on Snapchat sparked an epiphany, which would transform the rest of her time at Rowan. “The article discussed the fact that we will run out of fresh water by the year 2050. Here we thought we had an endless supply of water, but we really do not! I wanted to use my creativity to help,” she says.
Around the time she discovered the article, Jo was part of a class called New Ventures Development, where students expand on an idea for a potential startup business or product, and experience the process of bringing it to life. “In that class, I came up with the concept of a personal filtration system within a water bottle, called RefresH2O,” Jo says. “Wherever you are – hiking, spending time outdoors – you can scoop up water from a nearby body of water, and it will be filtered fresh. This will alleviate our plastic usage, and make us wiser about how we source our water.” Another class, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, helped Jo finalize the marketing plan and details for her product, including the target market and purpose. “I wanted to make a product that even a three year old could use. Everyone needs clean water — it’s a human right, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that,” she explains.
Jo notes her professors as the most impactful people in this stage of her life. “For a little bit, I became discouraged because not everything about my idea was perfect. That held me back a lot — the thought that I had to have everything completely set before putting it out there,” she reflects. She is grateful to have had class with Professor Kimble Byrd right before his retirement. “He was such an inspiration for the three or four semesters I had him. He kept us on our toes in class, and saw the fire in my belly and told me to keep my passion going, keep that drive, do what needs to be done, and just go for it.” Jo’s professors asked the tough questions she had tried to avoid in the past, and helped her stay on the track to success.
Her future plans include owning her own environmentally sustainable holdings or manufacturing company, and possibly even attending graduate school for a degree in engineering management, to continue to grow. She advises freshmen coming into the field to not let the idea of ‘perfection’ interfere with your goals. “‘Good’ is good enough; just get your name and idea out in the world and continue to work on your idea as you progress,” she says. “And keep track of your commitments! Juggling school work, being on the track team and my internship, senior year has been the most challenging year yet, but planning it all out and prioritizing made it a lot better.”
For now, Jo continues to accrue meaningful experience in the entrepreneurial field, working as an intern for the Office of Technology Commercialization at the tech park. “If a faculty member or student has research and the beginnings of a new venture or product that they are interested in marketing, we help them patent it, market it, or possibly license their technology,” she explains. As an intern for the office, Jo helps to build the content for the website and market the services the office has to offer.
“Now that I am familiar with the office and how it runs, I know that I can come here with my future projects and they will help me. I have a vision, I have a plan, and now my goal is to find similar people who can help me bring this to life. My mind just never shuts off with all these different ideas, and the entrepreneurship program here has really helped me put everything on paper. ”
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Story and photo by: Nicole Cier, junior writing arts major