There is a famous poem about a boy and a starfish that inspired the name of Allie Davenport’s ’24 (BUS) company StarMind.
As the old man walks along a starfish-covered beach, he sees the boy throwing the small creatures back into the sea one by one. The man asks the boy why he is so persistent. There are so many starfish that you probably can’t save them all, so why should you do that?
The boy picked up the starfish, said, “Well, this is important,” and gently threw it into the sea.
“The concept of making a difference in other people’s lives is part of my mission,” says Davenport, a sophomore at Litchfield. She at UConn is a historically underrepresented population of women and students served through the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“Starfish have the unique ability to regenerate damaged limbs,” she says. “The idea of salvation and growth through hard times is a big part of the ‘small wins’ concept. But it means helping people change their mindsets to focus on their everyday accomplishments and progress that are often overlooked.”
Davenport’s first venture and StarMind’s first product, The Guide, make a big deal about “small wins.” This is an interactive journal that combines daily logs, ‘morning mindfulness’, activity and reflection areas, providing access to key psychological concepts and curated online content. Through a QR code embedded in an American navy leather bound book.
“Each QR code is centered around a specific psychological concept,” Davenport explains. “There is an idea of time management, sleep, motivation and growth. I think everyone has more or less a personal connection during this time of pandemic and uncertainty.”
“Allie has had an entrepreneurial spirit this past year,” says David Noble, director of the Worth Institute. “She receives coaching from various mentors, collaborators, or clients to prioritize her next steps. We are very much looking forward to continuing to work together.”
Davenport is currently in business school but is considering a double major in cognitive science. Her brand is dedicated to mental health and self-development, with key psychological concepts integral to her guide playing a key role. in her own life.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, I was a multi-sport player, physically fit and playing all the time, but during one soccer game my throat started constricting,” she said. says. “I’ve never had a respiratory attack before. It was terrifying.”
Initially, Davenport was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and put on an inhaler.
“It did nothing,” she says. “I don’t think this is asthma, so I ended up going to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and being referred to a speech pathologist.”
The concept of making a difference in other people’s lives is part of what drives my mission. — Allie Davenport ’24, Founder of StarMind
During a test called laryngoscopy, in which a camera is passed from her nose to her throat, Davenport was told to think about how she felt when she experienced a respiratory attack. alone caused symptoms and was eventually diagnosed as paradoxical vocal cord movements (PVFM). PVFM is a breathing disorder in which the vocal cords function abnormally, resulting in wheezing (coarse, noisy breathing) and restricted airflow during breathing.
“I read almost every research paper under the sun, and it’s not a common obstacle,” says Davenport. “I was trying to figure out where it was coming from, and eventually learned that one of the common root causes was anxiety. It was so powerful that it paralyzed the physical part, the vocal cords, and restricted airflow.
She underwent months of speech therapy to help retrain her body how to breathe. But she had to retrain her mind.
“I couldn’t just take an inhaler,” she explains. “There was no magic medicine or surgery to cure me. I needed to train my mind, and PVFM helped me identify my triggers and find ways to manage that stress.”
The experience left Davenport with a deep personal passion for mental health, but coming to UConn gave him a flexible mindset and the ability to use his insights to help others. is now possible. Her interest as an entrepreneur in her own right became apparent as she found the support of the Werth Institute and her F3 Experience.
“Being an entrepreneur is about solving problems, connecting with people, taking calculated risks, and really seeing things that don’t exist yet,” she says. “What is the underlying problem? What is not being addressed? How can we solve it, or at least be part of the solution? It’s a theme and it really means different things to different people.I’m just trying to help make an impact and that’s what entrepreneurs do.”
Davenport sees The Guide as a tool. It’s not a substitute for therapy or medication, it’s something that helps you think differently and discover more about yourself. The Guide’s holistic nature means it’s a tool anyone can use, she says.
Her experience at the Werth Institute has given the UConn community new confidence.
“The Wealth Institute provided us with a support system we could turn to and gain confidence in launching StarMind,” she says. “I don’t even know if entrepreneurship would have been in my vocabulary without that experience. I now see my future through the lens of possibility, not fear.”
To support Allie and learn more about The Guide, visit mystarmind.com and follow StarMind on Instagram.
To learn more about undergraduate entrepreneurship opportunities at Werth Institute and UConn, visit entrepreneurship.uconn.edu.