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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

WA seniors take home first prize at UMass Lowell Differencemaker Rocket Pitch Event

Seniors+Devesh+Khamitkar+and+Adam+Wedlake+present+their+product+to+the+judges+at+the+UMass+Lowell+Differencemaker+Rocket+Pitch+Event.
Ed Brennen & Cameron Famiglietti
Seniors Devesh Khamitkar and Adam Wedlake present their product to the judges at the UMass Lowell Differencemaker Rocket Pitch Event.

WA seniors Devesh Khamitkar, Adam Wedlake, Griffin Lewis, and Stephen Lewis have become the fifth team of high schoolers in the region to win the UMass Lowell Differencemaker Rocket Pitch Event with their plant based nutritional supplement, “Schwink,” on Nov. 29.

The competition challenged its participants to develop an innovative product as a solution for a problem that society is facing in the modern day. Khamitkar and Wedlake, who were introduced to this event through the Entrepreneurship class at WA, took on the issue of malnutrition among modern-day Americans and developed a protein-rich vegetable-based powder which turns into a broth when heated and mixed with water. 

“After doing some preliminary research, we realized that […] nine in 10 Americans don’t receive the right amount of vegetables per day,” Khamitkar said. “So we created a supplement.” 

Khamitkar and Wedlake decided to go above and beyond with their product when they entered the competition. Rather than simply presenting an idea as many other groups did, Khamitkar and Wedlake decided to present the judges with a manufactured product, which was not a requirement. 

This decision was very time-consuming as the team prepared for the competition, especially with many of the team members being student athletes and Khamitkar also being the Class of 2024 president. 

“We didn’t have much time before the event,” Khamitkar said. “And because we wanted to physically bring our product there […] we went through about five iterations of the recipe before we settled on something that we liked.”

To work more efficiently, each team member took on different roles while still working closely with one another. Khamitkar was focused on the recipe of the product, while Wedlake handled packaging. Griffin and Stephen helped with marketing, and they demonstrated how to make the soup and served it to the judges at the competition itself. 

This interactive aspect combined with the real-life facts and figures the team used to back up their product’s importance led them to stand out among the other teams and emerge victorious.

“I think generally, we were the most motivated to actually bring what we were doing to life,” Khamitkar said.

This competition was developed for students at the high school level by a team made up of UMass Lowell staff, as well as WA Entrepreneurship teacher and former DECA advisor Gina Mustoe.

UMass Lowell has a similar competition for students at the collegiate level that had been gaining more popularity in the years prior to the high school competition’s founding. Mustoe, who is a graduate of the school herself, heard about it and received suggestions to potentially get business students at WA involved in something similar.

She finally looked into it and had a meeting that ended in the conceptualization of this Differencemaker Rocket Pitch competition, which is intended to give students a chance to develop problem-solving skills and experience in all aspects of business, specifically product development.

“[Compared to] teaching entrepreneurship from a textbook, you can never get the same experience of understanding how powerful innovation is than when you do a hands-on project like this,” Mustoe said.

Mustoe selected students from her Entrepreneurship classes to participate in the competition, and Khamitkar, Wedlake, Griffin, and Stephen stood out. While Khamitkar and Wedlake were initially going to participate separately from Griffin and Stephen, they combined forces after learning only one team from WA would participate.

“Devesh and Adam invited us to take part in their presentation at the Differencemaker competition,” Griffin said. “Stephen and I accepted the invitation because we wanted to support our classmate’s product in any way they needed us to.”

This year, ten schools participated in the competition, the largest number in the five years it has been running. The environment created by this large pool of competitors provided a model of a real-life business environment, in line with the competition’s goals.

“Watching the other presentations was unique because we were able to see what our competition is like in the real business world,” Wedlake said. “It teaches us that we have to look out for other teams, look at what their weaknesses are, and try to make those our strengths.”

After the experience they have gained from the Rocket Pitch Event, Khamitkar and Wedlake plan to participate in more pitch events as well as move forward with their product, which they have named “Schwink.” They sold out of their product at the Holiday Bazaar this month and plan to sell it at the Farmer’s Market in the spring.

A long-term goal of theirs is to potentially patent their product and introduce it into the retail scene. They want to build momentum and take Schwink even further.

“I think we have enough motivation. Even though we’re both busy people, we always find time to make things work and to get stuff done,” Wedlake said. “So I think just our shared drive and my love for the products has helped us get to where we are.”

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Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m a sophomore and this is my second year on the Ghostwriter. I love spending time with my family, reading everything from novels to webcomics, drawing, editing photos & videos, and satisfying my sweet tooth! I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year and having all sorts of new experiences on the Ghostwriter!
Ellie Lawrance, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Ellie Lawrance and I’m a sophomore staff writer for the WA Ghostwriter. This is my first year of working on the Ghostwriter and I’m so excited to start. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing which is part of what inspired me to join. I have a dog named Guvnor, and my favorite place is my cape house in North Truro where I visit with my friends. Some of my hobbies include playing volleyball, hanging out with my friends, reading, and listening to music. I have always enjoyed school and working with others, so I am so happy to be able to be a part of this team. I can’t wait to get started!

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