ELKHART — Several local high school students will be launching their own businesses thanks to money they earned Thursday, March 21, from local investors.
Sixteen students from Elkhart Memorial, Elkhart Central, Concord and Jimtown have been developing business plans for 10 companies since last fall through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program. Thursday evening, they presented their business plans — complete with their goals, marketing strategies, operating costs, projected profits and other details — to a panel of local business leaders. The panel then decided how to divide $7,000 that had been donated by area businesses between the students’ companies.
The panel also chose which business was the strongest in the group and able to go on to a national competition in Rochester, N.Y., against other businesses created by Young Entrepreneur Academy students.
That top company was E&M Removal, an electronic and metal recycling service started by Concord student Keenen Burnett and Elkhart Memorial students Tristen Singleton and Andrew Tefft.
The trio first learned that the investors would give them the $1,663 they had asked for to help start up their operation before learning they would go on to present at the national contest.
“I was just thrilled to get all the money we had asked for,” Tefft said. Now, the three agreed, they’re ready to get to work.
Several of the students’ businesses deal with clothes or fashion.
Jimtown student Khayla Guild’s Hippie Halos sells flowered headbands, while Jimtown’s Bonnie Passerallo and Mikayla Karasek create and sells a variety of accessories. Concord student Kimber Nelson has planned a consignment prom and semi-formal dress business online. Lorenzo Murillo, a Memorial student, and Austin Ward, a Jimtown student, are working to raise money for charity groups by selling silicone wristbands. Concord student Lupita Rodriguez has already been active with her motivational T-shirt and custom T-shirt business, called Passion Tees.
Two Jimtown High School students, Nicolle Bradley and Liz Maller, presented how they are working with their school’s administration to start a coffee shop in the school library, offering hot drinks to students before and after school.
Austin King of Memorial explained his business plan for selling people’s unwanted items online, while Tashara Porter went through the details of her child care service. Concord’s Jameyron Gary and Jimtown’s Ryan Little presented their plans to start a blog to connect local teens in conversation about community events.
Through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, local high school students learn about business and entrepreneurship by developing and running their own businesses. The program is run through the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
Kathy Cardwell, vice president of administration for the Chamber and Young Entrepreneurs Academy program manager, said that the students have been visiting local businesses and hearing from different local leaders about business, while continuing to refine their ideas for their own business and developing a detailed business plan.
John Hill, Elkhart Community Schools’ director of curriculum and instruction, applauded the students on the growth he’s seen them make since the start of this year’s class in October.
He joked with the students that if they thought the first two-thirds of the class were difficult, they’d better prepare themselves.
“Now that you actually have your start-up money, you need to get to work,” he said. “This is not fabricated or anything. This is actually starting your own business.”
Cardwell said that the students’ businesses will be on display at a trade show at Concord Mall May 11.