Five Tacoma high school students pitched their business ideas to a group of local investors on Wednesday as part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Pacific Lutheran University.
Encouraged by 40 family members, friends, and community business leaders, the students presented their business plans to an investment panel comprised of representatives from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Opus Bank, Rainier Connect, and HOLDstudios. In total, the investment panel contributed $2,900 toward the businesses.
Stadium High School freshman Sam Wheelock received $1,000 for Teen Tech Tutors, which provides one-on-one technology support services to the community, especially the elderly or otherwise challenged; Mount Tahoma High School senior Jessica Bokoskie received $1,000 for Sunny Beginnings, which produces fresh, individually-jarred breakfast muffin and oatmeal mixes that aim to make it easier to create homemade breakfasts; Stadium High School junior LaMondtra Atkins and Lincoln High School senior Arthur Hagen received $500 for Portz, which produces athletic shoes that incorporate sewn-in ankle braces to stabilizes ankles and help prevent injuries; and Bellarmine Prep freshman Gracie Weiss received $400 for Shout!, a consumer app that allows its users the benefit of receiving feedback about their daily outfits and current fashion trends.
Students will begin marketing and selling their products and services, and preparing for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Trade Show on June 1 at the South Tacoma Farmer’s Market at the STAR Center. The trade show is free and open to the public.
Two businesses still in the research and development phases also participated in the event. Tacoma School of the Arts junior Madison Chavez and Mt. Tahoma High School senior Lyric Swanson are creating The Art of Memories, which will provide customized memory books featuring personalized portraits and stylized drawings from artists/owners that are tailored to each individual clients’ needs. Lincoln High School senior Cyrus Singleton is creating Re’Ussu, a customized clothing company that specializes in T-shirts and hoodies, providing each client with a piece of fashion they think of as their own.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a year-long, after-school program that teaches local high school students how to start and run their own real businesses. The program was developed at the University of Rochester 10 years ago, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber introduced it to Washington State and the Pierce County community last year. The program teaches students how to brainstorm business ideas, write business plans, interact with business professionals, pitch their business plans to potential investors, secure funding, legally register their businesses, participate in a trade show, and launch their businesses. More information is available online here.