Student Turns Entrepreneur

by KATIE MCKEE

August 27, 2014

She’s an entrepreneur with a plan and a vision, and has shipped her product to six different countries.

She’s also in the ninth grade.

Helena Ingram isn’t like most students. While others attend day-long classes in traditional brick-and-mortar schools, Helena completes her courses online and spends her spare time working on her business ventures.

Helena enrolled as a full-time, diploma-seeking student with Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) in 2013 so she would have more time to focus on playing tennis.

As she adjusted to the new form of schooling, Helena found a new passion: learning from her entrepreneur parents and cultivating business ideas of her own.

“With Texas Tech ISD, it allows you to do as much as you want when you want so it’s very flexible,” she said.

With the flexibility TTUISD offers, Helena was able to travel with her mother, learning the ways of the business world, and began unfurling her brainchild — Chump Change.

Inspired by the mess of change in her dad’s car, Helena realized there was a problem and was determined to create a solution. She found the answer in Chump Change, a small drawstring bag that fits into a car’s cup holder and holds spare change.

She began with an idea. The idea morphed into a sketch. The sketch became a sewing machine project, and the project evolved into an invention.

Finally, Chump Change was born. The invention was initially funded on Kickstarter.com, and soon Helena had orders from around the world.

Now that her product has met success, Helena has a new goal set — encouraging buyers to donate their spare change to charity.

To do this, Helena opened a testimonial section on her website where Chump Change enthusiasts can share their stories of philanthropy.

The young entrepreneur/philanthropist’s next milestone goal is attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study engineering, then an Ivy League school for a business degree.

Her advice to other upcoming entrepreneurs is simple.

“Just find a problem and come up with a solution,” Helena said.

Aside from entrepreneurship, Helena has begun researching other interests she’s discovered in her TTUISD classes, her mother Susan Ingram said.

“It’s just been a great experience for Helena and we feel really fortunate that she had that option,” she said.

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