GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Students from the Young Entrepreneurship Academy launched businesses this morning, encompassing anything from event planning to innovative products that keep you comfortable and organized. Betsy Bair from the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce spent the year with students to help them prepare.
“Our board really felt that the Young Entrepreneurs Academy was so important to the community and these students learn that they don’t have to just take a job, they can create a job,” Bair said.
Students from 10-18 years old chose to participate in the program once a week for three hours, on top of all their school work and other extracurricular activities.
One student, Abagale Stone, is the CEO of Spot Bakery, a company that wholesales miniature cupcakes in unique packaging that she designed.
“This entire experience has been great,” Stone said. “The Young Entrepreneurship Academy has taught me so much and I am really excited to launch my business.”
Abagale is in the eighth grade and in a few weeks she will travel to Texas to compete against other businesses for a $50,000 scholarship. She is in a group of 25 semi-finalists that will pitch their companies to an investor panel.
“We have all worked so hard this year and just the feeling that all of our hard work is finally paying off is great,” Stone said. “It feels really great to be successful.”
The students involved learned how to create a business plan, marketing skills, time management, finances and public speaking. Today they were even equipped with their own business cards and websites.
Briana Elias is a senior in high school and she developed “The Seat Pocket,” a comfortable seat cushion that also has pockets for keeping things organized.
“It was hard to write the business plan and we had to go through the investor panel,” Elias said. “Even though those experiences were hard I think being here today makes me happy and it feels like I have accomplished my goals.”
At the end of the program they presented their start-up ventures to a panel of investors. Many of the students plan to continue growing their businesses and today they were selling their products and services to the community.
“I am so impressed by their amount of growth and their enthusiasm in the spirit that they have to just press forward and really be successful,” Bair said.