From headbands to hoverboards, samosas to social media, our first class of YEA! students finally got the chance to publicly announce their business ideas to the community and compete for funding in a Shark Tank-style event on March 16 at Concordia College’s Offutt School of Business.
It’s all part of what this program has been preparing them for during the last several months. They’ve worked hard on their business plans, meeting with mentors, hearing from guest speakers and practicing their pitches, and this event gave them the chance to move a step closer to launching each of their businesses by securing funds from the local panel of expert investors.
As the evening sun shone into the room, their eagerness and excitement also shined through. Students were able to mingle with businesspeople and speak with the media in a meet and greet as their families, friends and attendees filed in, eager to hear the pitches.
Dan Michaels, NDSU Bison announcer, served as emcee and kicked the evening off with a welcome, handing it over to Craig Whitney, who provided a background of the YEA! program and how this event came to fruition. Josh Teigen, a local entrepreneur who served as the class instructor for the year, told us about his own young entrepreneurial story, and shared a nice introduction to each of this year’s YEA! students.
Next, we met the investors, aka, “sharks,” who were Dean Bresciani, NDSU; Brewer Doran, Concordia College Offutt School of Business; Steve Dusek, Dakota CDC; Denise Gorsline, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Ryan Grussing, Cornerstone Bank; Jenni Huotari, Eide Bailly; Dan Hurder, Great Plains Hospitality; and Dan Staller, Starion Financial.
And then it was on to the moment we were all waiting for – the presentations! Each student gave an overview of their company and business plan, including start-up costs and monthly operating expenses, competitors, marketing plans, business goals and sales projections.
The students’ businesses are as follows:
Sydney Ulrich of Davies High School presented on Headbands for a Cure, which sells spandex headbands to help fund breast cancer research.
Ameera Mire of Horizon Middle School presented on Ameera, which sells fashionable clothing to Muslim teens in the U.S.
Dalad Oday of Moorhead High School presented on Samosa Empire, which produces and sells samosas.
Keller Lee of Cheney Middle School presented on TailTraders, which is an app to sell tailgating spots for NDSU Bison games.
Olivia Schroeder of Cheney Middle School presented on Pick-Pack Pantry, which is a meal kit delivery system for the FMWF area.
Tanner Paler of West Fargo High School presented on Find Me, a GPS for bicycles so they aren’t lost or stolen.
Josh Gronneberg of Discovery Middle School presented on EvoHover, a hovercraft with a unique propulsion design to make it more environmentally friendly.
Mukai Selekwa of Davies High School presented on Webblen, a social media management website.
Juanaiga Okugas of Davies High School presented on White Rabbit, which makes virtual reality games.
After each presentation, the sharks were able to ask questions of the presenters to find out more information to help them decide how to divvy up the available funding. After everyone had gone through and the sharks deliberated, snacks were served and we also got to taste Dalad’s samosas (which were delicious!), see samples of Sydney’s headbands and chat with the students further.
In the end, each student received varying amounts of funding, ranging from $300 to $2,400, and the big winner of it all was Mukai with Webblen.
Mukai was clearly grateful and proud to have won. “It means a lot,” he said. “I dream of being an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs have to start with some defining moment, and I feel like I’m on that path now.”
All of our young entrepreneurs have a very bright future ahead of them, and it will be exciting to see where their journeys take them. In the meantime, they all will proceed with their businesses, and Mukai can look forward to presenting Webblen at the YEA! semi-finals in Rochester, New York, in May.
Thanks so much to all the YEA! supporters and everyone who helped make this program and event happen.
If you know a great student for the next class, please encourage them to apply today. Applications are available through April 14 at fmwfchamber.com/YEA.
Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the night!
— Jenni Huotari (@HuotariJenni) March 17, 2016
— Kristi Becker Ulrich (@kristiulrich) March 17, 2016
My 11-year-old is cheering for White Rabbit to become a reality and has recommendations for which YouTubers should promote it. #YEASharks16
— Kirsten Jensen (@OnsharpKirsten) March 17, 2016
— Chad Kost (@chadkost) March 17, 2016
— Karn Jilek (@OnsharpKarn) March 16, 2016
— Samantha Gust (@FMWFSamantha) March 16, 2016