The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

Visitor’s Center Converted to Startup Hub


As the school begins to focus on experiential learning, the Visitor’s Center will serve as a space for alumni, business, and students to connect.

Visitor’s Center / J. Bennett

The building known as the Visitor’s Center will now serve a new purpose as the center of a new internship project involving a sports-medicine startup founded by a Malvern alumnus.

Mike Buono ‘89 recently started a company called The Safety Tag, and where did he look for interns? His alma mater. Three juniors, Ryan Antell, Nick Gabriele and Brian Rawlins will be working in the newly converted Visitor’s Center. There they will assist Mr. Buono while also learning valuable skills for the business world.

The relationship makes sense. Buono gets a resource out of the work of the three students, and the students gain a wealth of knowledge. Antell said, “Being able to work with and to watch how Mr. Buono has started this company and is handling the start-up process is very interesting and I’m hoping that working for him and watching him will help me later in life in the business world.”

Nick Gabriele offered more insight into the work the team has done thus far. Mr. Buono has come on campus already, meeting with his interns in the Learning Commons before the new entrepreneurial center. “[Mr. Buono] has been really open. Taught us about convertible notes and investment. He’s pretty much given us all access.”

Buono’s business plan is centered around a smartphone app that will give easy access to medical information. Parents will sign up their children for the teams they’re playing on, enter medical history, contact info, and an emergency action plan, as Buono calls it. All this information will then be available to coaches or whoever is on the sidelines.

Mr. Buono has really put his interns to work. The team was asked to act as researchers, comparing The Safety Tag to companies Buono hopes to model after. They searched the history of a few startups that are pretty much essential in their respective industries. Another project they have been given is to research recent legislation over youth sports safety. The goal is to make a case to investors that his product has a “captive market” among youth sports leagues. Gabriele sums up the work best, “We get a really good feel for what being an entrepreneur is like.”

Antell said they have also begun by helping The Safety Tag form its social media plan. The teens, well-versed in Facebook, Instagram, and the Twitter-verse, hope to help Buono grow his brand.

Opportunities such as this fit the recent Master Campus Plan precisely. A goal of the plan is to emphasize experiential learning that entails learning and working. Mr. Talbot describes this new approach as “The Triangle Offense.” Rather than sticking to the rigid divide between academics and co-curriculars, this new approach calls for experiences that teach such as interning with The Safety Tag, traveling to London to learn about a career, or participating in the Canon Design prototype camp.

When this opportunity presented itself, Talbot jumped at it and asked Mr. Ostick to assist in offering candidates willing to participate. Along with this program, Ostick is facilitating a project based internship at a local company with ten other students, working in focus groups to solve the company’s marketing challenges.

triangle-8Mr. Talbot’s goal is to give every Malvern student an experiential learning opportunity during their time at the school. When the opportunity arose to partner with Mr. Buono, he was ecstatic, but then he tried to think of the best place for the interns to work on campus. He said it was hard to think of a location that wasn’t already being fully used on campus.

Then the Visitor’s Center came to mind. Mrs. Pancoast is the building’s most recent first floor occupant, serving as a checkpoint for all visitors who arrive on campus. By moving Mrs. Pancoast to her former home in Austin Hall, space was freed up to convert the Visitor’s Center into the business hub Buono and Talbot hopes it becomes. Talbot said “To have that sort of opportunity on campus makes sense.”

Experiential learning is a principle ingrained in the school’s plan for the future. Opportunities like these internships will surely continue to arise as Malvern has hired its first ever Director of Experiential Learning, Aaron Brady.  Learn more about Experiential Learning at Malvern.

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