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For the 13th year in a row, Young Americans just selected the top youth business owners in the state. The annual Celebration for Young Entrepreneurs took place during Denver Startup Week, and there were several new elements this year that made the event more exciting than ever!
We hosted the event at the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver. The event space was packed to the brim with family, friends, Young Americans staff, and community. The event emcees – the current Youth Advisory Board Co-Chairs — Martha and Ashia introduced the evening and did a wonderful job facilitating a great program. The evening started with the finalists and winners promoting their businesses at individual booths and selling their products.
Sinéad, a finalist from Sticky Side Up in the 6-11 age category was selling her unique duct tape jewelry and notebooks. Next to her the girls from Flair Body Care were busy helping customers choose what scent of bath salts they should buy. The winner in the 6-11 age category, Lexi from The Bite Sized Bakery, was sold out of cake pops by the end of the night!
Unique and high quality greeting cards were available from both finalists in the 12-15 age category: Hannah from Hanimals Greeting Cards, and McKenna from Kenna’s Kards for the Kure, and also from Devin from Eyemonster Art, finalist from the 16-21 age category. Finalist in the 16-21 category, Olivea, had a table full of her Oli-Bo-Bolly dolls, each handmade and one of a kind. And winner in the 12-15 age category, Jasey had sample variety packs of her cookies available for purchase from her company, Jasey’s Little Bakery.
The program began with the oldest age category finalists LIVE pitching their businesses to the audience of over 100 people! Olivea from Oli-Bo-Bolly went first and shared her perspective and business motivation by telling the story of a beach full of stranded starfish, and that we can all make a difference by helping just one. Next was Devin from Eyemonster Art who flew out from Michigan just for the event, where she just started at Hillsdale College. Her unique card company and passion for art and making people happy was the story she shared with the crowd. Brennan and Janson from B & J Papers were not able to be at the event due to health and family issues, but they pulled together a video on a Sunday. The video highlighted that the boys employ and mentor young kids in their paper delivery service. While the judges deliberated on a winner from these accomplished kids, the audience was engaged to text in for “audience favorite” to be awarded later, and the awards ceremony continued.
Big checks were given out to the finalists in the 6-11 age category, and then the winner from The Bite Sized Bakery, Lexi, and her mentor, Sara Bencomo, a local entrepreneur and owner of Happy Cakes, gave their acceptance speeches. We are excited to see what this relationship brings to both of these bakers!
More checks were handed out to the finalists in the 12-15 age category. Hannah and McKenna both have greeting card companies with philanthropic causes that are personally important to each girl. Then we celebrated the winner, Jasey and her gluten-free dairy-free bakery, Jasey’s Little Bakery. Justin from Justin’s is her mentor and it was obvious the connection between these two and their families is strong and will be one to continue and grow for years.
The judges came back after thorough deliberations and the texts were tallied…Oli-Bo-Bolly was the big winner! She won the 16-21 age category and the audience favorite award. Olivea will be paired with mentor Saul Garlick from Think Impact. Eyemonster Art and B & J Papers were awarded the finalist prizes of $250 each.
We wish all these business the best of luck, and can’t wait to see what they will do next! Other young entrepreneurs at the event were inspired to start and grow their business ideas.
Young Americans is here to support them at any stage. You can come support these winners and finalists and over a hundred more youth business at our upcoming Holiday Marketplaces! Saturday, December 6th 10am-2pm in Cherry Creek, and Saturday, December 13th 10am-2pm in Belmar.