Princeton Common App Essay: Entrepreneurship



Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

“Ka-ching!” Success! This was not a real cash register but the sound of a notification from the Etsy app on my phone. I eagerly read the screen. “One new order.” Someone bought something I created! A childish glee coursed through me as I opened the Etsy app.

This adventure began two years ago when I clicked the “Publish” button on my new Etsy shop. (Etsy.com, a virtual marketplace, accommodates everyone from budding entrepreneurs to experienced sellers.) Soon came the first order, and I was hooked. At first, my shop in the cloud sold art prints built of simply two components: ink and cardstock. But with increasing confidence, I experimented with new styles, concepts, and materials. My shop expanded to offer a selection of products including wedding invitations, iPhone cases, and business-logo designs.

To create a market for my products and services, I opened two Instagram accounts. I contacted Instagram users with anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 followers to sponsor my shop, which meant they would post photos of my art and share their followers with me in return for free products. Many more “Ka-chings!” rang out as my little business burgeoned into an international enterprise with customers in Australia, Canada, and England. I grew with it. I began to take risks. I acted on other ideas, including building a professional photography business.

My shop, created as a hobby, soon opened up new opportunities. I’ve collaborated with several entrepreneurs, including the winner of the international Starbucks White Cup Contest. My art has been published in Ama-gi Magazine and I’ve licensed my designs to businesses nationwide: a clothing store, a phone case shop, and a paper goods company. Most recently, Rocksbox.com, a jewelry company featured on Forbes.com, asked me to sponsor their company because they want access to my customer base. I will showcase their products on my Instagram accounts.

Although I enjoy designing, I relish the “Ka-ching!” and what it means to me. It represents non-monetary rewards: confidence, because I made important business decisions; productivity, because I worked within a tight schedule to deliver quality products; and excitement, because my Etsy success has inspired me to chase other opportunities. I’ve also learned some real-life skills: communicating effectively with customers, enjoying focused work, researching marketing techniques, brainstorming product ideas, organizing my time, and taking risks with my own money. Most significantly, I experienced how a few bold ideas and diligence can translate into confidence and the joy of achievement.

In the beginning, my business wasn’t very lucrative. I earned far less per hour than the minimum wage. But the “Ka-ching!” is not about money, it’s about total strangers around the world giving me a vote of confidence for my hard work with every dollar they spend.

They say that there is a profound link between sense and memory. Everyone experiences this with a familiar smell or sound because the same section of the brain that holds memories also has sensory processing ability. For me, that cash register sound always recalls the thrilling sense of achievement, assurance, and connection with other people. That is the power of “Ka-ching!”

Published in Common Application Essays, Successful College Essays, Successful Princeton Essays

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