The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is continuing our work to help at-risk youth stay in school and pursue a brighter future. With your support through the GlobalGiving platform, NFTE will serve close to 15,000 students in over 650 classrooms across the country during this school year. Our programs promote entrepreneurial activities as our students learn the real world skills necessary to enable career or high education pathways. As the new school calendar has begun, NFTE closed out the old year by bringing the winners of our Regional Business Plan Competitions to New York City on October 3rd for the 2013 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Each of the participants came ready to pitch their entrepreneurial ventures, having honed their business plans through NFTE mentoring sessions and earlier competitions. In total there were 38 students representing 34 businesses at the Challenge. During an exciting, day-long event they were able to make their pitches to panels of judges. These students had been developing not just their unique business ideas, but also the marketing, financial, and operating processes during their time studying NFTE’s curriculum. After two competitive morning rounds, three businesses advanced to the finals; Jesus F. and Toheeb O. of Illinois for their innovative soccer shin guard business T&J Soccer, Juny N. of California for his necktie venture NeckCessories, and Dagim G. from Virginia for his sports blog The Audible.
Before the finals in the evening, the other 34 young entrepreneurs had a chance to present their wares during an exposition before the final round. Melissa R. from New York City sold several containers of her herbal skin cream, Vera Natural, while Vanessa G. of Ohio, the founder of Piñata Time, showed off the colorful piñatas she crafts for children’s parties. During this time, the four finalists were receiving words of advice on their presentations from celebrity entrepreneur and NFTE supporter Sean “Diddy” Combs. Jesus and Toheeb mentioned to the judges during their question and answer session that they had taken Combs’ advice to heart in regards to their marketing strategy. NFTE is grateful that he was able to mentor our students and participate in the National Challenge.
After the final presentations, and some intense deliberation by the judges, Jesus and Toheeb took home first place and $25,000 to further their education or grow their business. Juny and Dagim both received $5,000 for making it to the finals. First place (and $5,000) in the E*TRADE Elevator Pitch Competition was won by Aliyah W. of Missouri for the presentation of her stylized crutches and casts, Cool-Aid Crutch Wear. All told, NFTE awarded $35,000 in venture capital, scholarships, and other prizes at the Competition, and the students got to promote their companies, hear feedback from successful business executives, and network with top entrepreneurs. This spring a new group of NFTE students will take their first steps towards the 2014 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge when they compete in classroom competitions across the country. We’re looking forward to a great crop of new business next year!
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