Twelve high school students from the Northwest suburbs pitched their business ideas this month before a panel of eight real-life investors to compete for funding at the 2nd Annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel Presentation Event at The Cotillion Banquets.
The students presented before representatives of some of the area's biggest companies, as well as an audience filled with family, friends and members of the community, for the opportunity to win funding for their original business ideas.
This year's YEA! class is comprised of students from Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and St. Viator High School. The Investor Panel Event is one of the program's three big events that take place over the duration of the nine-month program.
The investor panel donated monetary contributions and in-kind donations, as well as their support and encouragement. The funds were divided and allocated to the businesses that investors felt had a well thought out plan, and an idea that had a good chance at success.
The investor panel included Jennifer Grealish, BIK & Co, LLP; Joseph Quinn, BMO Harris Bank; Larry Moats, Moats Office Properties; Jack Goldberg, Windy City Call Center; Jon Stickney, Palatine Bank & Trust and Barrington Bank & Trust; Trevis Crane, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Dr. Paul Castle, Castle Chiropractic; and Ted McGinn, Lavelle Law, Ltd.
The businesses pitched at last night's panel were:
• Dioné Chocolatier, a business that sells handmade chocolate and truffle confections. CEO: Adaora "Daisy" Okpa, Hoffman Estates High School.
• D.LUXE Rx, a one-of-a-kind, uniquely designed, and conveniently functional water bottle. It acts as a water bottle and pill container at the same time. The lid holds seven different pill containers, one for every day of the week. You simply open the lid take out the desired pill and consume it with the water, which is accessible through a rubber straw located at the top of the bottle. D.LUXE Rx will be available for customers to purchase at the local Nordstrom or Macy's by the end of 2015. CEO: Daniel Stoychev, Hoffman Estates High School.
• OUTSPOKKEN, an urban style high-waisted denim shorts line. CEO: Elizabeth Chick, Fremd High School.
• River Teck, which works to provide a simpler and more comfortable way to transfer data from one device to another. CEO: Giancarlo Rivera Moore, Palatine High School.
• Aether Caelum, a team of developers working on an MMO (massively multiplayer online) open world, sci-fi, player-driven video game that is the only one of its kind. Executive Director: Jake Kazmierczak, Fremd High School.
• Ware It Again Sports, an online pre-owned jersey retailer. Options for transactions are buy, sell, or consignment. CEO: Kevin Cull, Fremd High School.
• Golden Youth, a clothing line consisting of custom designed short and long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, crop tops, and beanies. The artwork created by the company is heat pressed onto the apparel which creates stylish, contemporary, and comfortable clothing option for teens, young adults, and beyond. Co-CEOs: Lisa Lavelle and Mary Kate Marty, St. Viator High School.
• Captain Industries, the creator of a neck pillow that can heat and cool upon activation. I also has retractable ear buds so that you can listen to music or watch movies whether sitting at home or traveling. CEO: Robert Glaser, Palatine High School.
• Ruthy's Bake Shop, makes and sells a wide variety of pastries that are delicious, unique and affordable. Quality ingredients create superior and affordable products. CEO: Ruthy Orellana, Hoffman Estates High School.
• Handy Glove, a product that protects wearers with the cut-proof properties of Kevlar without sacrificing any mobility or comfort. CEO: Shant Jindoian, Palatine High School.
• Rize, which provides customers with an inexpensive and durable alternative to the traditional skateboard by making it out of aluminum. CEO: Denzel Ray, Palatine High School.
Students will now begin marketing their products and services, working on manufacturing and preparing for the YEA! Trade Show in May, which will give them an opportunity to showcase their goods to the public.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA!, is a groundbreaking educational program that takes students in grades 6-12 through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of a full academic year. Students work in close cooperation with local leaders of industry, community members, and educators to develop ideas and objectives, write business plans, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, develop their brand identity and more.