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YouthBiz StartUp is a program of Young Americans Center for Financial Education that encourages young people to learn, think, speak and act like entrepreneurs. Students participate in a 10-session curriculum that culminates in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition where they pitch a business idea. The winning idea receives bragging rights and a $100 cash prize. Two different groups recently held their competitions: 16 participants pitched at Colorado Uplift on November 9, and nine middle school students pitched at McAuliffe International School on November 15.
Smell X, a group from Skinner Middle School, won the Uplift Shark Tank with their innovative solution to smelly teenage gym bags. The Smell X team worked collaboratively and cohesively to present a well-rounded presentation to the judges that detailed the very real problem each team member had with smelly gym bags in their respective sports. The group also worked very hard on creating a functional prototype with several different scent options that would make your gym bag smell like Eucalyptus, Lemon, or Lavender.
NRG won the McAuliffe Shark Tank, with a practical solution to on-the-go snacks. NRG created nutritious, easy to grab energy bites for athletes and active
individuals who need a quick way to fuel between school and practice. They made functional prototypes that demonstrated their two product lines—all natural energy gummies and organic trail mix. Both group members spoke equally, answered questions professionally, and were incredibly prepared with their presentation.
The pitches this year have been phenomenal! Creativity and innovativeness were apparent in the products and pitches of every group, not just the winners. Presentation skills were impressive, with several groups creating visual aids for the audience, memorizing their parts, and demonstrating clear evidence of practice time. The biggest take-away this year was the extra effort our winners put into their businesses. Both winning teams spent time outside of class to develop their prototypes and their presentations, both of which certainly contributed to their titles.
Young Americans Center has several more StartUp programs scheduled to begin in the new year, with a few programs straddling the holiday season and concluding in the new year. We are also working on a large competition structure with the Denver Public Library system between branches for a Spring Break camp in March. There’s so much happening with YouthBiz in the new year! If you’d like to take part, please contact Anna Leer, Vice President of YouthBiz: firstname.lastname@example.org.