SVC Finalists Part Two: Impact on the North Shore

The Social Venture Challenge at Gordon College has never been more entrepreneurial in spirit. For the eighth year, student teams will pitch their startup and nonprofit venture ideas to a panel of judges in the Final Showcase, competing for their share of $10,000—but this year, the experience will take place virtually.

Out of 15 teams who went head-to-head in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership’s semifinal event on March 3, seven groups remain in the competition. With quad four of the spring semester taking place remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new obstacle has been introduced to the students’ challenge to conceptualize and organize a new venture.

In anticipation of the showcase via Zoom on April 30, The Bell interviewed each team to learn about their pitches and how they are adjusting to a new avenue of collaboration. Meet two of the finalists making an impact on the North Shore: Vamos and Beau’s Indoor Dog Park.

Vamos—Arielle Moreira ’20 and David Walczak ’20

On a rainy drive to Market Basket, a conversation about immigration and education sparked an idea that would become a potentially life-changing opportunity. From there, Arielle Moreira ’20 and David Walczak ’20 created Vamos, a cleaning company that will equip female immigrants from Brazil by teaching them English, providing financial and educational resources, and offering luxuries like a biweekly massage.

“I know that if I empower these women with literacy, they will have the tools to get their GED or strive for a college education,” says Moreira. Speaking English and being employed alleviates some of the difficulties of moving from Brazil to the United States, they say, and empowers women to strengthen their futures.

In recent weeks, the cleaning industry has slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Moreira and Walczak are working hard to keep their business alive by conducting a client survey about their cleaning needs and concerns so that Vamos can determine the best precautions when resuming work post-virus.

If they win the first-place prize of $5,000, Vamos will secure employee benefits and invest in resources needed to teach English and clean homes.

Beau’s Indoor Dog Park—Marlena Voss ’23 and Jackie Kuznicki ’23

Before her first year at Gordon began, Marlena Voss ’23 was estranged from her family. During that difficult time, she was unexpectedly gifted a black and white bull terrier named Beau. Though it wasn’t love at first sight, the responsibility of providing a safe home for Beau also led Voss to safety, a healthy routine and eventually back around to reconcile with her parents.

“I realized that I loved Beau the way my parents love me, and because of him I reconciled with the past,” Voss says. “Beau saved my life.”

In honor of her dog, Voss created Beau’s Indoor Dog Park. Upon opening, it would be the only indoor dog park on the North Shore that offers a clean, safe and spacious facility for dogs to exercise and socialize.

Working alongside her father and Jackie Kuznicki ’23 in the Social Venture Challenge, Voss aims to unite a community of dog lovers and provide pets with a change of scenery. The business will also offer workshops where owners can come up with fun new ways to play with their pets.

“Dogs deserve just as good of a quality of life as we live,” says Voss. “They shouldn’t be estranged from other dogs—imagine being quarantined forever!”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the search for real estate for the park has come to a halt, but the team remains optimistic and continues to prepare for the Final Showcase. If they win the prize money, they will invest in marketing, paying rent and buying the limited liability company (LLC) license.

Tune into Vamos’ and Beau’s Indoor Dog Park’s final pitches in the Social Venture Challenge Final Showcase via Zoom on April 30 at 7 p.m.

By Ellian Chalfant ’22, communication arts and Spanish