FIRST-YEAR STUDENT CLAIMS TOP PRIZE IN BUSINESS CHALLENGE
When anxiety, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment happen simultaneously, what does that feel like? Well, when the winner of the second Fowler Business Concept Challenge (FBCC) was revealed in late October, all of the above emotions expressed were in perfect Harmony.
“I am so shocked, eternally grateful, I was feeling so many emotions when I won,” said 18-year-old first-year University of San Diego student Harmony Prado. “I saw my competitors and … oh my gosh, I’m the youngest competitor. But I knew I had a strong community supporting me, an amazing mentor and everyone believed in me, so I believed in myself. But I still can’t believe I won first place!”
Believe it. Prado, whose idea, Harmony’s Room, is a digital safe space/mental health and well-being platform offering emotional support services for teen girls, earned the top scholarship prize of $15,000 from a pool of $45,000 generously provided by Ron and Alexis Fowler. She first thought of the concept when she was just 15, after struggling with her own mental health issues.
Clearly, being a teen herself and wanting to help others so they might not have to endure pain is evidence that Prado is wise beyond her years. “This is my purpose in life. I’m extremely dedicated and determined,” she says.
She edged out three other FBCC finalists when they gave final full pitches with several top industry executive leaders present online in late October. Additionally, Prado was one of 16 semifinalists to give a full pitch to other judges.
She may only be a few months in as a Torero, but Prado has considered USD her top college destination since her junior year of high school. The entrepreneurial community, resources and the atmosphere at USD have definitely been to Prado’s liking. She enjoyed weekly training sessions for the FBCC, but when she became a semifinalist, weekly consultations strengthened not just her idea, but her networking capabilities.
“I love entrepreneurship at USD. It’s extremely vibrant and that really stood out to me when I was 16. Now, at 18 — even though learning is online for now — I still feel the warmth and embrace of the entrepreneurial spirit here. It’s really unlike any other community. It uplifts so many voices, especially with social impact. I think that’s extremely huge, extremely important. I’m so grateful to be connected in this space.”
Her other strong connection comes from her family’s home. “My family is my rock,” she says. She has three siblings, but singles out her older sister, Charity: “She’s my biggest role model, my mentor and the one who introduced me to social entrepreneurship. She coached me. It’s a supportive sisterhood. She showed me how to find where passion meets purpose, and that’s how I started Harmony’s Room.”
She beta launched her website — harmonysroom.org — in the summer of 2020 and expected to have a mobile app developed by the end of the year. She already has a partnership with San Diego Unified School District to begin an implementation model.
While she works on ways to reach teen girls, winning the FBCC is a positive step forward for her confidence — and just as likely for other young entrepreneurs watching her succeed.
“Winning this competition really validates my determination,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you have a passion and you’re rooted in that passion, you can go out and accomplish anything.” — Ryan T. Blystone