Honeoye Falls student headed to national contest
A student who participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy last year at Finger Lakes Community College was sent to the 12th annual Saunders Scholars National Competition for young business owners, hosted online by Rochester Institute of Technology.
Brandon Russell, 15, is a sophomore at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School. His product, No Touch Flush, is a device that allows users to flush a toilet without using their hands.
He will be up against 35 other students from YEA chapters across the country, including seven from New York.
Though he had an interest in starting a business from a young age, Russell enrolled in the program without a product in mind.
"I was doing YEA and really struggling to find an innovation or idea," he said.
Then, his stepfather, a contractor, complained about repeatedly fixing public restroom toilet handles that people had kicked to avoid using their hands. And this was before COVID-19.
According to Russell, that “was the light-bulb moment.” He developed a simple concept of a stirrup fitted to a bungee cord to avoid any part resting on the floor.
"It was really cool to be guided through the process of starting a business,” he said. “It's really fun.”
The program took Brandon through the development of a business plan and he ultimately won $1,000 in prize money for his idea in the local competition at FLCC. He used the funds to buy a computer and teach himself computer-aided design to turn his prototype into a more attractive design.
The Saunders competition has a top prize of a $30,000 RIT scholarship along with business startup funds.