Charyl Pitts-Howard, Occupational Therapy student turned Entrepreneur
LSBU is helping Charyl Pitts-Howard an Occupational Therapy student with a passion for education turn her idea for sensory play platform into a reality
Charyl Pitts-Howard has a passion for education, a flair for the arts and a belief that all children have the potential for greatness. Throughout her career, she has combined her talents to help children achieve and succeed. She has taught in what was one of New York City’s toughest schools, and developed a curriculum for London’s Recovery College that provides parents with the skills to help their children recover after experiencing mental health issues.
Charyl has also produced a body of cultural works that was exhibited at New York City’s Schaumburg and Lincoln Center Libraries that taught parents and children how to connect through the traditions of story telling, song and dance. More recently, she is a graduate from LSBU’s MSc / PgDip Occupational Therapy.
Best start possible
Alongside her other numerous achievements, Charyl is also is the inventor of WUNDERkIND Sensory, a digital-based sensory play platform that provides new parents with the tools they need to naturally enhance their baby’s development. It’s an idea that the MSc Occupational Therapy graduate developed as an idea to help her own baby. “As an occupational therapist and new mum, I wanted to give my baby the best start possible,” she says. “I knew how babies benefit from sensory play, so I created a sensory play programme for my own baby. It was a hit with other new parents, so I used the concepts I learned on my degree to create WUNDERkIND Sensory.”
Buoyed by the early reaction to her product from other parents, Charyl decided to start her own business and, having seen the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute’s adverts at LSBU, it became the logical next port of call as she sought to commercialise her idea.
“The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute is an excellent resource for start-ups and those with an entrepreneurial spirit,” explains Charyl. “The business workshops held at the Clarence Centre are like an A to Z for those new to the world of business.”
LSBU has played a big part in helping me to achieve all that I have done so far, and I am looking forward to the next steps in driving WUNDERkIND forward – knowing I have the support of the university behind me. I think that it is a unique environment to support budding entrepreneurs, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.
The Institute quickly recognised the commercial potential of Charyl’s product, as well as her own entrepreneurial drive. She was accepted onto LSBU’s entrepreneurial accelerator programme.
The programme gave Charyl access to mentoring and advice from investors, business experts and successful entrepreneurs. It helped Charyl to refine her ideas, and WUNDERkIND Sensory will work in the marketplace.
Make It Happen competition
Whilst taking part in the programme, Charyl entered WUNDERkIND Sensory into LSBU’s Make It Happen competition, and was delighted to win the Idea category at the awards ceremony. “Entering the competition just seemed to be the natural next step for me,” says Charyl. “It was an extremely validating experience and gave me even more confidence in the business potential of WUNDERkIND.”
Creating a prototype
Charyl’s success in the competition was rewarded with a prize of £1,000, which she intends to spend creating a prototype of her product. “Once I have something tangible I can present to the public, I will be able to find out what it is they really want from WUNDERkIND Sensory,” she explains excitedly. “I’ll then be able to tweak the product accordingly, until I hit that special sweet spot where the product perfectly matches the customers’ needs.”
With the backing of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, Charyl believes that WUNDERkIND has a fantastic opportunity to make it into the marketplace. “The future is bright,” she says. “LSBU has played a big part in helping me to achieve all that I have done so far, and I am looking forward to the next steps in driving WUNDERkIND forward – knowing I have the support of the university behind me. I think that it is a unique environment to support budding entrepreneurs, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”