This article is by Launch alumna, Kiara Wahnschafft.
I never really had a comfort zone growing up. I was often the newbie on soccer teams that had been composed of the same group since elementary school. I walked into theatre camps full of rock-solid friend groups knowing absolutely no one.
So, instead of gaining a familiarity through routine, I gained a certain familiarity with the unfamiliar.
My craving for exploration probably started from my Montessori school days, where the curriculum was mostly student driven rather than teacher driven. There was no strict schedule shuffling you from activity to activity and there was no daily procedure to grow accustomed to. One day I could investigate the species of butterflies because that subject had piqued my interest the night before. But another day I could count some beans merely because they were beans and they’re quite entertaining when you’re three. So the norm became that which I wanted it to be – the norm became creating my own intellectual challenges and delving into them.
As I got older, my summers became the times when I could do exactly that. I ended Montessori school, and was in a more structured school system, yet wanted to explore again. My family graciously helped me do that. I went to summer programs where I could study topics that I enjoyed ranging from sustainable energy to mock trials. When I was a sophomore, I discovered programming and joined a competition called Technovation, in which high school girls create an app and a corresponding business plan. While I loved programming the app, this new idea of entrepreneurship was all too appealing: a way to act as my own teacher and foster my own innovation.
When I found Launch after searching for entrepreneurship programs online, it seemed like the ideal summer challenge: turning an idea into a real company with a tangible product in just four weeks. Within days of leaving Launch I wanted to go back, but I at least knew that I would continue working with a small subset of Launchies every week – that subset is made up of my two co-founders, whom I continue to meet with to this day. The community of Launch extends beyond my co-founders, though, to a group of individuals drawn to innovation and exploration of how challenges can be harnessed to create a vision of a better reality. My love of the unfamiliar found a sense of familiarity in the ambition and curiosity of my peers who I am excited to have as my network, friends, and collaborators.