Chemical engineering graduate student Jared Schoepf said he didn’t always consider himself a entrepreneur. As an engineering student with a drive to create solutions that would help as many people as he could, making money wasn’t his goal. It was an afterthought.
“It just happens,” he said.
Schoepf said it was after about a year and a half into his first project, Sustainable Storm Solutions, a grate that filters out the trash from storm water before it reaches the Salt River, when he realized it could be monetized.
He was working on the project in his EPICS Gold class, Engineering Projects in Community Service. At the time the class was taught by Richard Filley, the founder of the EPICS program.
Filley said that during the three years Schoepf was his student, he watched him mature and grow as an engineer and successful businessman.
“(Schoepf) started winning awards his first semester in the program,” he said. “Which was surprising, because I don’t normally expect freshman to do so well when there are upperclassmen, but clearly he was very talented.”
Schoepf entered to win Entrepreneur magazine’s “College Entrepreneur of the Year” in May. Two months later, Schoepf was notified he was one of 10 finalists. He had to make a video explaining his business, which got him a place in the top five finalists.
The winner is chosen through online voting. The polls will be up until Sept. 17.
Two years ago, Schoepf co-founded SafeSIPP, a water purification system for those in rural, developing areas who must walk long distances to get their water. The system purifies water as it is pushed, solving the problems of storage, purification and transportation of clean water, Schoepf said.
If Schoepf wins, it will just be another award to add to his extensive collection. Schoepf and his team members for both projects have won a string of awards, including a grant from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative and the Innovation Challenge, furthering their ability to successfully create solutions to problems they are passionate about he said.
If he wins, Schoepf will receive a two-page spread in Entrepreneur and $5,000 in funding. Plus, six months down the road the magazine will run a follow-up piece on him.
Entrepreneur magazine has a circulation of more than 600,000. Schoepf said the two articles would be the equivalent of receiving more than $200,000 in free marketing.
ASU alumna Taylor Barker works with Schoepf on SafeSIPP. She has known him since 2011 and has gotten to know him well over the past few years.
“He’s very passionate about entrepreneurship,” she said.
Barker said she is also excited for the opportunities that the publicity of winning such a prestigious award will bring SafeSIPP.
“It will help us draw potential customers,” she said. “It is a great opportunity for us to get international attention.”
One of the other finalists is Stephen Ost, a UA student who created a mobile application that allows users to see if their friends are available. Schoepf said this makes him not only eager to win, but excites him about Arizona’s entrepreneurial culture.
“Honestly, I think it’s really good for Arizona,” he said. “I think it really shows the whole state in general is doing really great for entrepreneurship.”
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