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FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm: Expert Education Series - Innovation Pathways


On February 11th, two inspiring and successful FIRST®alums joined current FIRST students Aidan and Emily for a conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship.  

FIRST alum Kristin Kagetsu is a founder of Saathi, an award-winning next generation packaged goods company, creating absorbent products that are good for your body, the community and the environment in a responsible and sustainable way.  

Kristin spent a large amount of her childhood on a FIRST team. Starting in 2003, Kristin joined a FIRST®LEGO® League team and was on FIRST®Robotics Competition team 1594 from 2004-2008.  

On her FIRST team, Kristin shared that she loved working in a team environment and FIRST helped her learn that she wanted to be in mechanical engineering because she loved building. In college, she experienced the wide array of doors STEM could open in her professional career and saw innovative ways to utilize her degree, which led her to India, where she has spent the last 6 years.  

Brian Mitchell is a FIRST alum and founder of, an online service which connects high school students/families with effective college counseling and personalized technology to guide them through the US college application process.  

Brian founded his FIRST®Tech Challenge team in 2013 and shared that his favorite memories are from staying up late with is teammates, building robots and making it to the state championships. He shared that he utilizes the skills he developed through FIRST in entrepreneurship and business helped him see value in adding things to the world that make it better. His piece of advice for the FIRST community is to focus on a problem initially, truly and entirely understand the problem, and then focus on the solution.  

When asked about “failing fast” and entrepreneurial ideas, both Brian and Kristin shared their advice on the topic.  

Brian: “Don’t be taken on any given idea until it has proven its value to you” 

Kristin: “Take calculated risks to go after an idea and try it out. You really don’t know unless you try.” 

To watch more of the Q&A between Kristin and Brian, click here as they walk you through their experiences from FIRST to co-founding successful and innovative companies.  

As part of the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm, FIRST is hosting an expert educational series featuring conversations with innovators and essential tips teams can apply to succeed in the challenge. Topics may include:  

  • Pitch advice 
  • Business model education 
  • Intellectual property 
  • Careers in innovation 
  • Product development 
  • Using CAD to show design 

The series will run through early April and will be a combination of informative webinars, Q&As and live panel discussions featuring dynamic FIRST alumni and experts from our sponsors, allowing teams to engage with real-world innovators and entrepreneurs. Past webinars can be found on the FIRST Innovation Challenge Expert Education Series page, including helpful innovation resources from BAE Systems and SEED SPOT. 

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