Be the Person to Make It Happen

Published by: Missouri Source Link
Author: Lauren Caldwell
Date: May 3, 2016

be-the-person-to-make-it-happen---ride417Evangel University students Ally Walsh and Jami McConnell were discussing safe-ride programs over morning coffee in January 2015. “Safe-ride programs are free, confidential, non-judgmental rides home for students who are intoxicated or in otherwise unsafe situations and we wondered why there were no programs in the Springfield area.”

Jami suggested a local safe-ride program as something they could start. Ally laughed and declined. Jami persisted until Ally agreed to attend the National Safe-Ride Conference in College Station, Texas two weeks later.

Motivated by their conference experience, they returned with a plan to create a safe-ride program that would benefit the universities in their area but they quickly became challenged with time management. “I had a triple major in English, Spanish and Biology; Jami majored in English Education. Neither of us had business or entrepreneurial knowledge,” says Ally. “All we had was an idea and plenty of passion.”

In between coursework and finals, they participated in The Venture Creation Challenge sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. They created a twenty-page business plan, pitched, spoke with judges and made it to the semi-finals. Their spare time was spent connecting with university administrators and becoming members of the DWI task force.

“Most important was to build the business safely and securely, rather than fast. We want all aspects of the business and clientele to be safe.”

A major accomplishment came when they were awarded their 501c3 status from the IRS. Ride417 will launch fall of 2016 in time for the new academic year and fall semester.

The process has been a little frightening for the team, but Ally says, “There’s a potential for failure, but push through it anyway.” The team feared their age would influence their success, but Ally adds, “There is no age requirement to be an entrepreneur. Having an idea you want to pursue is what makes you an entrepreneur.”

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