Island University Student Wins Buc Days Ideas Challenge with Vacation Babysitting Project

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: February 18, 2020

Island University Student Wins Buc Days Ideas Challenge with Vacation Babysitting Project

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – What seems like a common challenge often does not have a simple solution, but Taylor Castillo, a junior at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, came up with a plan for parents needing babysitting services while on vacation that won her $3,000 and first place in the fifth annual Buc Days Ideas Challenge competition Feb. 11.

“The competition allows our students to gain experience in conceptualizing a business idea and presenting it to potential investors,” said College of Business Dean John Gamble. “It’s an essential element of their career development in the entrepreneurship program.”

Three finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, who voted on each proposal. Students and others attending the event then cast their votes via cell phones.

Castillo said the idea for her project came from her own experience vacationing with her husband and their daughter. Having the option to hire a babysitter who had already been screened by a legitimate company would give couples more options while on vacation.

“I’m a mom to a 2-year-old little girl that my husband and I adore,” said Castillo. “But I also remember a time when we used to go to the movies, have a quiet dinner, or just meet up with friends for the evening. Now, if we want to do something like that, we have to secure a sitter ahead of time which is actually a lot harder than it sounds, and if we’re in an unfamiliar city, then it’s just not in the cards for us. In fact, it was on a vacation to San Antonio when I had the idea for Vacation Sitters.”

Taylor Castillo gives her business pitch during the 2020 Buc Days Ideas Challenge

Castillo conducted market research of local families as well as the families of visitors to Corpus Christi. In addition to the potential from local families, she noted that more than 10 million people visit Corpus Christi each year and more than 5 million visit Port Aransas. She also looked at disposable income, employment, population trends and other data to help build her proposal. She initially considered an Uber-style service, but later changed to a physical location model.

The winner, who plans to graduate in 2021, said her education at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has been essential to her development as an entrepreneur.

“I’ve had wonderful professors at this University; Dr. (Kent) Byus is one of them,” she said. “This is something that I would not have done on my own, so the push from Dr. Byus was huge. Having so much support and the resources here have been a huge help.”

Castillo plans to pursue a master’s degree at A&M-Corpus Christi, perhaps in finance.

About 60 students enter the competition each year, said Byus, Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Education in the College of Business.

“This event illustrates how our students can work to innovate new and interesting possibilities that create and capture value,” Byus said. “This is a place where students come, pitch and see whether there is any viability to their idea.”

The winner each year is automatically entered in the Raymond Ideas Challenge at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in College Station. They also have the opportunity to work with the Island University’s Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center.

“Having an entrepreneurship ecosystem on this campus enhances every community that we touch, and every community in the area has called upon the College of Business and the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center and our faculty and our students to become more involved in their development of an entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Byus said. “It creates jobs, it develops sound economies, it gives people an opportunity to test and to succeed.”

Last year’s Buc Days Ideas Challenge winner, sophomore Luke Raglin, will compete during spring break at the Pensacola Pitch in Pensacola, Florida, which offers $20,000 in prize money. He placed second at last year’s Raymond Ideas Challenge.

The Buccaneer Commission provides prize money each year to support the event. The commission has so far provided more than $1.3 million in scholarships to Islander students.

Taking second place in this year’s Buc Days Ideas Challenge and winning $2,000 was marketing major Leila McElroy, whose project “Ruff Adventures” is a monthly subscription box designed for dog owners who want to be more active, enjoy the outdoors, and spend more time with their dogs. McElroy, a student at the A&M RELLIS Campus, plans to graduate in Fall 2020.

Third place and $1,500 went to accounting major Lindsay Carroll, whose project “Once Upon A Trail” is a dual functioning property that appeals to customers looking for a wedding venue, or a hunting and fishing destination. Carroll plans to graduate in May 2021.