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YouthBiz StartUp may look different this year, but the program is just as impactful. Just ask the eight students who recently participated in the program as part of their course work at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC).
Located on 40 acres near the Centennial airport, CCIC aims to revolutionize the student experience in college and career preparedness. The campus offers seven career Pathways, each “rooted in real-world skills, with a focus on putting learners in an industry based culture and climate.” CCIC students alternate days between their traditional high school and CCIC, earning both a high school degree and certificates or college credits, depending on their future goals.
CCIC implemented the YouthBiz StartUp program for the first time this winter. Students from a variety of education pathways, including iHealth& Wellness, Business Services, Hospitality & Tourism, and Infrastructure Engineering, could elect to participate, motivated by a $250 prize that would be awarded to the best business pitch. Faculty member Kim Reiser was instrumental in bringing the program to her students because she thought a StartUp Week would be a perfect complement to their Business Services Curriculum. “A student in Auto might want to start his own business, and Pro Start students may want to start a food truck or catering service,” noted Kim. When COVID hit, the plans were delayed a year, but Kim was finally able to implement the StartUp week in 2021.
Kim worked directly with YouthBiz Vice President Anna Leer who enhanced the traditionally 5th-9th grade curriculum for Kim’s high achieving 11th and 12th graders. “The startup process is really the same whether you’re 6 or 60,” explained Anna. “For CCIC students, we provided the opportunity for them to take a deep dive into financial analysis, not only identifying a startup cost, but calculating unit cost, unit price, and profit margins. The result is that these students will leave the program, whether they win or not, with a completely viable business idea.”
The viability of student business ideas was striking, watching students pitches over Zoom on Thursday, January 28. Each group had five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judge experts, including Lauren Hebert, entrepreneur and professor at CU Denver, Ben Weinberg, entrepreneur and owner of Ben Weinberg Consultants, Tom Brook, CEO of Denver South, Margie Adams, Owner of Emerge Approach, Old Sanidas, Executive Director or Arapahoe Libraries, Rick Walker, retired engineer, and Danielle Shannon, insurance agent. The four businesses pitching were:
- Lilies – an online, mobile, neighborhood-based thrift store
- Grip Track – an up-cycled device to help eliminate false starts while racing track
- Mile High Mentality – a clothing movement to inspire youth
- Queen – a subscription service for everyday household items
As the event was drawing to a close, Tuhin Halder, Vice President of Finance and Business Operations at Comcast congratulated all participants before announcing the winner. “The technology world is changing all the time, and Comcast is so proud to support Cherry Creek Innovation Campus and YouthBiz in this partnership,” Halder said as he spoke to the winners. “It was a pleasure to see the energy and amazing ideas you all presented.” In the end, Halder presented Grip Track with the grand prize for their professional presentation, testable prototype, thorough market research and financials, and the potential for scalability.
According to Mary Spillane, Director of Community Impact, the YouthBiz StartUp program is the perfect way to support budding entrepreneurs. “At Comcast, we have an entrepreneurial spirit, embracing good ideas and bringing them to life quickly. We are proud to support diverse young entrepreneurs as they develop skills in utilizing technology through YouthBiz programming. These real-world experiences inspire and empower them to look forward, innovate, and succeed in their current and future endeavors.”
Student participants not only learned a ton through StartUp, they also gained practical experience in developing and pitching a new business. Senior Chris Htun or Eaglecrest High School commented, “One thing that will stick with me from this is the amount of time and effort you put in these pitches. If you don’t have a solid idea on what your business is going to be about, then you won’t get anywhere in the business industry.” He added, “Thank you for broadening my perspective in business.”
For more information about YouthBiz StartUp or to use the program in your classroom, please contact Anna Leer: firstname.lastname@example.org.