Baruch Student Wins Blackstone LaunchPad National Ideas Competition
January 4, 2022
Baruch College undergraduate Bruno Santos Rodrigues is one of four winners—out of nearly 1,150 applicants from 34 higher education institutions nationwide—to score a grand prize of $10,000 in the inaugural Blackstone Launchpad Ideas Competition.
Santos, an economics major at Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Science, was selected from a group of finalists from a previous competition round, for his proposal to create a socially responsible, environmentally friendly brand called Chasqui Outdoor Clothing.
The Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Competition provides college students—who possess no prior entrepreneurship experience but have early-stage business ideas—with a chance to win money to take it to the next step.
An Idea Inspired by the Incas
Santos (’23), who was born in Brazil and went to high school in Peru before coming to the United States at 18 years old, drew on his cultural background to create his unique idea for a brand.
According to Santos, the Chasqui Outdoor Clothing would be a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable brand named after the official messengers of the Incan Empire. Yet the company would be much more than an apparel line.
The Incan Chasqui messengers were tasked with running many miles through different climates to carry and transmit objects and information. Chasqui Outdoor Clothing would promote cultural awareness as well as “exploration of the Peruvian outdoors and environmental consciousness” among Peruvians.
(credit: Bruno Santos Rodrigues)
In his pitch, Santos proposed making the apparel from Peruvian Alpaca wool, “one of the greenest fibers on earth, ensuring high-quality, durable and sustainable clothing” that is water-repellent and odor-resistant with thermoregulation qualities (insulates against cold, breathes when it is warm).
Production would also be local, as well as have benefits and fair compensation for workers, with a goal of making “a positive impact in the communities involved in the process.”
“Overall, I am very proud of the prize and feel motivated to keep working on my idea in the future!” says Santos.
“Having participated in the Blackstone Launchpad Ideas Competition provided me the first step to the materialization of my dream entrepreneurial idea. While critically thinking about the details of the creation of a company/brand, I have also come up with a document that I can now use to present to and attract other investors in the future.”
Last spring, Santos Rodrigues was selected to be part of the 2021 class of Jeannette K. Watson Fellows. He is also a Baruch Climate Scholar.
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