By: Dale King Contributing Writer
Three students enrolled in this year’s Young Entrepreneur’s Academy at the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce earned thumbs-up ratings for their business plans along with a bag full of helpful prizes at YEA’s recent Elevator Pitch competition held at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus.
First place went to Annika Sachdeva, a Pinecrest School sixth grader, who gave a 60-second overview of her plan to market “SunStreaks,” moistened wipes containing sunscreen to protect skin from the sun’s intense rays.
Second place went to Max Gottbetter, an 11th grader at Saint Andrews School, who posited the idea of creating a “Band of Relief,” a group of people who could be sent to help victims of natural disasters.
Third place went to Jameson Burmeister, an 11th grader at Boca Raton Community High School, who came up with a business to manufacture “Infiniband,” a perforated bandage that can be broken apart to fit a cut or wound.
In abbreviated “Shark Tank” style, about 20 students made minute-long presentations promoting their products. Winners were chosen by a panel of business-savvy judges: Michelle Adams, vice president and retail market manager for CenterState Bank; Bob Frare, CEO of Business Growth Services and Patricia Nobles, senior vice president of Comerica Bank.
Students in grades 6-12 take part in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy each school year. It is offered to young learners who have demonstrated creativity, innovative ideas, academic effort, determination, enthusiasm, the ability to communicate and a commitment to their community and family.
Through a nine-month curriculum that runs from September to May, students work with local leaders of industry, community members and educators to develop life skills, generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans and launch their very own companies.
The program for 2018-2019 culminates in April when the Chamber conducts Investor Panel Presentations based on the “Shark Tank” TV show format. This year’s event will be held April 10 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the headquarters of Office Depot, 6600 North Military Trail in Boca Raton.
“Students will have up to five minutes to present their business plans to real investors in order to secure funding,” said Sherese James-Grow, manager of YEA and the Chamber’s Golden Bell Education Foundation.
The Elevator Pitch Contest challenges students to come up with quick, concise presentations, as if they were explaining their plan to someone while riding an elevator.
Other student presenters at the Feb. 13 competition were: Sasha Zimet, Athleticz Cosmeticz; Elizabeth Stein, Pawprints bracelets; Neil Sachdeva, Vulcan A.I.; Sasha Rudnick, Hearrings; Charles Orquera, Infosmart; Cameron Newman, PossAbility; Isaac Moss, “Where’s my car?”; Benjamin Miller, Bendable Bag Co.; Eladia Michaels, Re-Wipes; Arya Hulloli, Pet Sense; Madison Huang, Camp Finder; Gillermo Herrora, G4m3 Br4in; James Grimaldi, Snap Corp.; Arden Boyajian, The Hype Syndicate; Marcello Barba, Gyrospinner and the duo of Justin Rothberg and Jack Schwartz, Offline.
The event also included a CEO Roundtable which allowed students to question top local executives. On the panel were Jason Emmett, president of Duffy’s Sports Grill; Randy Nobles, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County; Alex Oliviera, CEO of Prediq Media; Michael Orr, president of Minuteman Press and Sam Zeitz, CEO of Touchsuite. Tara Auclair, senior marketing manager for Modernizing Medicine, one of the 38 businesses at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, was moderator.