How it all began
What if…there was a startup incubator program like TechStars or Y Combinator, but exclusively for high school students? And what if that incubator could hook high schoolers up with epic advisors, and other resources that could really help them succeed? I thought…
…Nine months later, we launched the first Catapult Incubator at the Harvard Innovation Lab. That was 2013. In the past 4 years we’ve run 10 Incubators and the results speak for themselves:
Our +300 Catapult alumni have generated over $3 million, started more than 60 companies and have gone on to attend top universities, such as Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Upenn, and USC.
Our Alumni include successful young entrepreneurs that have:
- Invented a hearing aid that was featured on CNN
- Built a drone to deliver humanitarian aid in the wake of disasters
- Been the youngest person ever to be “backed” on Kickstarter
- Created a smart robot to revolutionize the hospitality industry
- Networked over a million followers to market her brand
The first Catapult Incubator
Meet The Catapult Team
Joshua Caleb Collins
Founder and CEO
Josh is a serial entrepreneur starting his first company in college, a nonprofit aimed to fund student-led service projects. His second venture was the first online network to track and validate student volunteer hours. Over the past 10 years, he has worked with global nonprofits helping young entrepreneurs take action and create impact. Prior to starting Catapult, he served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, a global organization that promotes a global culture of youth initiated positive change. Josh earned his bachelor’s degree from Westmont College where he graduated cum laude with three degrees in economics and business, communication studies, and social science. Josh loves cycling and lives in New York City with his wife Lucy.
Chief Product Officer
As Catapult’s Chief Product Officer, Chris has lead the development of the Incubator’s curriculum and has overseen various cohorts in Silicon Valley, Chicago, Boston, and New York City. Previously, Chris has helped Ashoka’s Youth Venture scale throughout the Pacific North West and coached young entrepreneurs in Ernst and Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Chris has spent time showing Fortune 50 companies how to build new businesses and used all elements of customer research, ideation, and financial modeling to help these companies launch $100 million dollar businesses. He also spends time with a mobile technology company in Silicon Valley steering strategic direction for global expansion. In his free time Chris loves to play ultimate frisbee: he’s a college champion, national champion, and won the world championships in 2014.
Director, Parent Program
Nita is one of the founders of Chaaya Charitable Trust, which funds education for children from the slums of Bangalore, India. She is a certified Parent Coach and launched the Parenting Changemakers program for Ashoka. She also serves on the board of The Kiran Anjali Project, a non-profit providing education to disadvantaged children. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and her masters-level coaching certification from Seattle Pacific University. As the Parent Engagement Manager at Catapult, Nita works on parent outreach as well as facilitates the parent program and parent events. She has lived on 3 continents and 10 different cities. She currently lives in Barrington, IL with her husband, 2 teenagers, dog, and horse.
Head of Partnerships
As Head of Partnerships at Catapult, Amanda manages strategic relationships and Catapult’s Alumni Ecosystem. Her journey began as a high school entrepreneur, founding her own apparel company at the age of 14. Due to her interest in the intersection of business and social impact, she attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School where she graduated with both Civic Scholars certification and cum laude honors in Finance and Marketing. Prior to Catapult, she worked in investment banking at Jefferies’ Media & Telecommunications team. She is now thrilled to have her story come full circle, enabling her to support high school entrepreneurs with resources she wish she had in her past. In her spare time, Amanda pursues photoblogging and opportunities to travel the world spontaneously.
Expert-in-Residence & Facilitator
Jon is passionate about serving and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. He serves as the Director of Praxis Academy and is a Partner at Praxis, a venture group with over 100 entrepreneurs in their portfolio. Prior to Praxis, Jon spent seven years at a Fortune 50 Company, where he helped launch a new venture and revive another, gaining operational expertise in customer experience design, organizational leadership and brand management. After catching the entrepreneurial bug in 2012, he left the corporate world and has since been Executive Producer of a successful indie film, worked on his own startup, and served as an advisor to a handful of early-stage ventures. Jon is also a founding board member and current Chairman of the Board at 100cameras, a social enterprise that empowers marginalized children to be catalysts for change in their communities. He is a graduate of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Manhattan.
Elana graduated from Barnard College in 2014 with a degree in Anthropology and Human Rights. She is passionate about the ways that interdisciplinary design can be used for community building and healing. In college, Elana launched a startup focused on the intersection of food and community building and experienced the impact of design and social entrepreneurship during her work with Design for America, where she worked together with high school students in Harlem to re-imagine health education. Prior to Catapult, Elana worked as a Community Manager at a graphic design studio on-boarding, managing and coordinating design projects with volunteer designers. At Catapult, she serves as the Program Associate and Designer in Residence.
James provides CFO advisory services and executive coaching to help organizations develop strong foundations upon which to scale and replicate internationally. He had an 8-year career on Wall Street at Banc Of America Securities LLC as a Vice President in US Institutional Equity Sales. As a consultant with Grassroots Capital (private equity) and BlueOrchard Finance S.A. (asset management) in New York in 2008 and 2009, he worked primarily on fundraising and building proprietary portfolio and holding company models. From 2009-2014, he served as CFO at SPBD Microfinance, where he launched and operated 3 start-up micro-finance banks in Tonga, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. He also created a network-wide holding company based in Singapore, growing the platform by 600%.
As Logistics Coordinator at Catapult, Crystal manages multiple projects to make sure each Incubator runs smoothly. She has served as an Executive Assistant to CEOs, COOs, Chairmen, and Executive Directors in both the private and university settings, and she has extensive experience working with small businesses as an Event Planner, Director of Operations, Publications Consultant, and Social Media Manager. As a Registered Dietitian and culinary enthusiast, she was led to author two books on the restaurants and chefs of Austin, Texas, as well as edit two other cookbooks. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Texas State University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a concentration on Nutrition and Foods. She has one husband, two cats, and countless cookbooks.
Jill is a student at Babson College, majoring in business analytics and finance. Currently, she is the COO of her startup, Pitch to Start—a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch concepts and receive real-time feedback. In high school, Jill founded her startup, Didomi, which gamified the donation process for teens to give to nonprofit organizations. Jill incubated her startup at Catapult and found her passion for entrepreneurship while at the program. Now as an Alumni Relations Intern at Catapult, Jill works to engage alumni like herself to grow the Catapult community.
Facilitator, Entrepreneur in Residence
Parker is the Managing Partner of Mirus Labs, a design studio that helps learning organizations create spaces and experiences that encourage creativity, wonder and learning. He is a cofounder of Urban Montessori Charter School, an Oakland elementary school with 330 scholars based on design thinking, arts integration and the teachings of Maria Montessori. A passionate believer that making things develops creative problem-solving skills, he is also the cofounder of STEAM Factory, an Oakland family makerspace currently building a two-person, 30 mph hovercraft. Prior to Mirus, he built and sold 2 companies, built 2 airplanes and flew them around the country, managed the DARPA-funded MENTOR Makerspace program for Make: Magazine and co-invented Maker Studio, a building toy currently sold in bookstores and specialty toy stores across the country. In his spare time, he makes drones, boats, pens, knives, treehouses and anything else his kids want to make.