Three YEA students take top honors at Boca Chamber’s ‘Pitch’ competition


By: Dale King Contributing Writer

A high school junior from Davie notched first place in the Boca Raton Chamber’s Elevator Pitch Contest last month, coming up with a proposal for a business that provides roadside assistance for electric cars that run out of juice.

Jacob Wise, an 11th grader from the David Posnack Jewish Day School, impressed a three-judge panel with “Get Amped,” a company he created while participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

During his one-minute “pitch” to judges, Wise described his firm as “a mobile electric car servicing company.”

Two other students placed among the top three finishers. Christian Frenette, a sixth grader at Franklin Academy in Boynton Beach, came in second with his plan to create “Teen Chess,” a company offering teen-agers chess lessons, costing $20 per lesson.

Taking third place was Cole Fendelman, a 10th grader at St. Andrew’s School, who came up with “Toe Guard,” a protective piece that athletes can wear to prevent their toes from being bruised during sports competition.

YEA students will be back before a panel of local business people in April to elaborate on their plans and request funding for their business proposals in a “Shark Tank”-style presentation.

The Boca Chamber’s Golden Bell Education Foundation sponsors the Young Entrepreneurs Academy which conducts a CEO Round Table and Elevator Pitch Contest each February. This year’s event, held Feb. 12 at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, allowed students to hear about the journeys of actual CEOs. Then, they pitched their business ideas to the public as they began their own journey into entrepreneurship.

The YEA class meets after school one day a week from September through May. Classes are held at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton. Through the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and actually launch and run their own real, legal, fully formed companies.

Part 1 of last month’s session included five of Palm Beach County’s top CEOs as part of a moderated panel. Participating business leaders included Robert Finizio, CEO of TherapeuticsMD; Jennifer Jager, CEO of Plum Productions; Randy Nobles, CEO of Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach County and Sam Zietz, CEO of TouchSuite.

“The CEO Round Table is an integral part of the YEA! Program,” said Troy McLellan, president & CEO of the Boca Chamber. “It gives students participating in the YEA program an opportunity to hear first-hand from business owners and industry leaders about their success and what it takes to get there.”

“Since the fall, students have been working with mentors and program instructors developing their business plans and acquiring the tools they need to turn their ideas into successful products or services that can be introduced into the marketplace. Their ability to interact with this panel is an important step in the young entrepreneur experience.”

As part of the Elevator Pitch contest, 18 students between the ages of 11-17 gave voice to their business ideas.  They have been working for more than four months in cooperation with local leaders of industry, community members, educators and entrepreneurs, who use their personal experiences to walk students through the steps of creating their own businesses from the ground up.

YEA students are taught skills through in-class lessons, guest speakers and business mentors.

“I am extremely proud of how hard this YEA class has worked to understand concepts, work on business plans, and practice public speaking so far this year,” said Sherese James-Grow, foundation manager for Golden Bell and YEA.

Other “pitch” participants were: Amelie Bertrand de Balanda and Jasminesoye Thomas, “Tenn Ace”; Harlan Burnstad and Justinsoye Thomas, “Project Flight Photography”; Ethan Faust, “LugXury Rentals”; Imaara Koreth and Val Sylvain, “At the Spot”; Joah Levine; Joshua Maizes, “Build-A-Botics”; Ben Rosenthal, “Opportunas”; Sarang Shravan, “Stat Analytics” and Maya Stagman, “Enhancing Dancing.”