Wilson Waller, founder of Building Box, is getting involved with STEM education on a worldwide scale. His vision is to provide computer focused learning to underprivileged youth all across the planet through the development of his unique style of portable classrooms.
Talk about yourself and building box.
My name is Wilson Waller. I’m 25 years old, born in Memphis, TN, and the founder of Building Box. Building Box is company that designs and distributes portable STEM classrooms and Makerspaces within shipping containers. The containers are pre-fitted with everything a student needs to learn a variety of computer and engineering skills. Unlike normal portable classrooms, these boxes are highly cost efficient and can be easily shipped anywhere in world, meaning they can provide computer access, internet access, and education to those living in rural and underprivileged area.
What made you start building box?
Three and a half years ago, I moved to India to work with a non-profit. The Himalayan village had a lot of children who were interested in computers, but most had little access to electricity, internet, and computer hardware. I wanted to find a way for kids in similar situations to be able to work with computers and learn skills like coding and digital design, even when they are in such disconnected locations. I came up with the idea of creating classrooms in shipping containers, one of the most scalable and cost feasible way to provide portable learning environments on such a large scale, and so Building Box was born. After working with several engineers and nonprofits, the first classroom was created in the Himalayas.
How did you get involved with Start Co.?
My journey with Start Co. began in February of 2017 when I participated in the 48hr Hack-A-Thon event sponsored by Start Co. I pitched the concept and over the weekend I worked with some amazing people to create a business plan for Building Box. Afterwards, I applied for the summer accelerator program for social innovation at Start Co. called Sky High. The program has been amazing and has helped me narrow down a business plan and build strategic relationships around Memphis and the country. The leadership and mentoring from Andre Fowlkes, President of Start Co., has been eye-opening. Alongside Start Co., other foundations have supported me in the creation of our first box in the United States of America, currently sitting downtown by the Mississippi River.
By the end of 2017, my goal is to have five accessible boxes across Memphis. After that, we will start working to send boxes all over the United States and the planet. These classrooms are not exclusive to a single area, they can benefit a lot of people and, due to their design, be accessible nearly anywhere.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t working as an entrepreneur?
If I wasn’t working as an entrepreneur, I am not quite sure what I would do. I’ve been starting businesses of my own since I was in college, so working with this kind of independence is all I’ve known. I love to travel and be outdoors so maybe I’d explore the world and become a writer.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Having a positive outlook and genuine concern for those around you and in your community can take you far. I believe that if you have the drive to create something great without the need for validation, you can get anywhere you want in life.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love to canoe and spend time with my friends and family. I’ve always liked being outdoors and staying active. Right now, I am having fun working with Start Co. and growing my business. I am extremely lucky for the opportunity Eric and Andre have given me with the accelerator program, so there is nothing I would rather be doing than developing Building Box, except maybe building 100 Boxes to send around the world.