Thinking about spring break brings to mind a relaxing vacation. But for 48 entrepreneurs, this year’s spring break was spent creating the perfect business idea as part of YouthBiz StartUp Mini-Camps, a partnership between Young Americans Center for Financial Education and Denver Public Libraries.
The YouthBiz StartUp curriculum guides 11-14 year-olds through the basics of creating a business idea. Young people learned how to develop ideas, create a prototype and pitch a business to a panel of judges. From March 26-29, YouthBiz delivered lessons at three community libraries: Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, Ross-Barnum Branch Library and Woodbury Branch Library.
All of this learning required brain fuel! YouthBiz partnered with Eat Mile High to deliver a free lunch at each location every day. Participants enjoyed delicacies such as Adobo’s top-selling carnitas, Rumichaka’s yummy Mac and cheese and Las Cazuelas de Fer’s fan-favorite chicken quesadillas.
On Friday, entrepreneurs prepared for the main event–pitching their business to a panel of judges. A big thank you to these remarkable judge, who listened and provided valuable feedback to each presentationAdam Akisanya from Park Burger, Jake Calzavara from Anadarko, Lynette Harper of Zeta Zeta Zeta Sorority, Wil Callaway and Kate Burns from Woodbury Library, and John Nelson of the Sakhu Institute.
The competition was fierce, especially at Blair-Caldwell where there were ten business that made presentations. But in the end, these three groups claimed victory:
- Aloha Denver, Blair-Caldwell Library – Tatym (11) and Jane (14) planned to revolutionize the shaved ice industry with all-natural ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, and green paper products
- Crazy Cupcakes, Ross-Barnum Branch Library – Issac, age 13, invented a cupcake business with healthy ingredients and exotic flavors like lasagna
- Vroom, Vroom Baby, Woodbury Branch Library – Rory (11) and Tekla (13) created a stroller, complete with a blue-tooth speaker system, to make life simpler for new moms
In addition to taking home a $100 cash prize, these winners earned the right to pitch their idea at a final pitch competition. This culminating event took place at the Capital One Cafe on Saturday, March 30, to an audience of family and friends. Judge Tom Green, a retired businessman formerly in the oil and gas industry, joined Madison Traviss and Robert Haller from Capital One. Each business group brought their very best effort, and the judges had a difficult decision to make.
After much deliberation, the Aloha Denver team ended up with the grand prize, an additional $250, furnished by John Nelson of the Sakhu Institute. Judges complimented the team for their passion, their research and for the potential their business has in the Denver market. The pair was ecstatic, and they couldn’t believe they had won. “I’m really proud of myself,” said Jane. “Besides creating a winning business, I’ve also made a really great friend!” Tatym added, “I didn’t know I was any good at business. This has been the best spring break ever!” Tatym and Jane hope to open an Aloha Denver shaved ice stand this summer.
Thank you Go Urban Companies for sponsoring this week of entrepreneurship!