Young Entrepreneurs Showcase Their Business Plans at Future Founders Competition Motorola Foundation Sponsors Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center's (CEC)

Competition for High School Students at ESPN Zone



    CHICAGO, May 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Student finalists from Gwendolyn Brooks
 College Prep and ACE (Architecture, Construction & Engineering) Technical
 Charter High School competed Friday in an interactive business plan
 competition as part of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center's (CEC)
 Future Founders program. Semi-finalists, out of an original seventy-five
 students, from the program presented their business plans in an American
 Idol-type format, including a panel of judges and audience voting, at ESPN
 Zone.
     Slavko Bekovic and Jose Leon, seniors at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep,
 were crowned as the winners of this year's youth entrepreneurship program
 competition for their business, The Online Scout. Having recently gone
 through the process of working with college scouts for baseball
 scholarships they realized there is a need in the market for a Web site
 that allows student athletes to send their information to scouts and other
 organizations for added publicity and greater opportunities to play sports
 in college and professionally. With this concept, The Online Scout was
 born.
     "The Future Founders program and all of the mentors helped provide
 ideas we never even thought of to add to our business plan," commented
 Bekovic. Leon adds, "We never thought we would be able to turn something we
 like, such as sports, in to a business that is actually profitable, but we
 already have eight customers!"
     Joshua Taylor and Alexis Isaacs, founders of One Fragrance and seniors
 at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep, were the first runner-ups for their
 company that creates one-of-a-kind fragrances to fit people's
 personalities. Ryan Braswell and Darrell Jackson, founders of D & R Gaming
 Tournaments and sophomores at ACE Tech, were the second runner-ups for
 their video game tournament company that organizes tournaments for young
 adults who like to compete, play in a safe environment and have a chance to
 win cash prizes. All six of the winners took home Toshiba Laptop computers
 as prizes.
     "We want to ensure continuing to inspire students with creative ideas
 to funnel them in a positive outlet in the business world and also
 introduce the students to new things, such as their first taste of sushi,
 that may not traditionally be exposed to them," said David Weinstein,
 president of the CEC. "The high-caliber of mentors we have involved in this
 program are extremely dedicated and in the case of Karan Goel [a 23
 year-old from University of Chicago and founder of PrepMe that recently
 made BusinessWeek's list of Top 25 entrepreneurs under 25] may only be a
 few years older than the students!"
     Sponsored by the Motorola Foundation and partnered with the National
 Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), the second annual Future
 Founders program teams up 50 young, passionate and successful entrepreneurs
 and Motorola staff members with primarily African American and Hispanic
 students in a mentoring, educational program. The mentors come from diverse
 backgrounds and similar demographics as the students, making it easy to
 relate to the student's experiences.
     "Motorola supports programs that are innovative in design and function,
 such as Future Founders," said Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola
 Foundation. "Future Founders not only drives the concepts of discovery and
 innovation that are at the heart of Motorola's culture, but is also an
 opportunity for our employees to contribute to the Chicago community
 through a truly rewarding mentorship experience."
     Through the CEC and their partnership with Motorola, ten students
 involved in the program will be offered paid internship opportunities at
 some of Chicago's top entrepreneurial firms to provide them with the
 opportunity to apply their skills acquired through the program to the real
 world.
     "As part of the program launch team, I've been volunteering for two
 years and have found the experience of mentoring and coaching to be very
 rewarding," said Mark Hoyt, volunteer mentor and a director of finance at
 Motorola. "Watching the student's eyes light up as they pull a real
 business together and then seeing their new confidence as they pitch the
 ideas to a panel of judges makes me proud of what the volunteer
 entrepreneurs and my colleagues from Motorola have been able to help the
 students accomplish."
     Over the course of an entire school year, the mentors share their
 real-world business experiences, help students fine-tune their business
 plans and work on their presentation skills. Future Founders works closely
 with the NFTE program to provide a comprehensive experience to the
 students.
     "Through entrepreneurship education, NFTE helps young people from
 low-income communities engage in school, learn about the market economy and
 develop businesses," said Christine Poorman, Executive Director, NFTE
 Chicago. "We're thrilled to partner with the CEC's Future Founders program
 as another tremendous resource dedicated to students and our communities'
 future business leaders."
     The panel of judges included: David Weinstein, President of the
 Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and one of the founders of the Illinois
 Innovation Accelerator Fund; Jim O'Connor, Jr., Corporate Vice President of
 Technology Acceleration at Motorola; Mark Hoyt, Director of Finance,
 Technology Acceleration at Motorola; Andre Williams, Managing Partner of
 Kaze Sushi and client entrepreneur of the CEC; Stefanie Lenway, Dean of the
 College of Business Administration at University of Illinois at Chicago;
 and Julie Stamberger, President and Co-Founder of Go Picnic and client
 entrepreneur of the CEC. The business plan competition amongst the top
 students is the culminating event of the Future Founder's event and will be
 continuing again in the 2007/2008 school year.
     About the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center
     The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) is a nonprofit affiliate
 of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce that seeks to make a perceptible and
 lasting economic impact on the Chicagoland region by providing a
 comprehensive support network for entrepreneurs through sales and client
 development; financing; support resources; strategic advisory programs; and
 community development. For more information, please visit
 http://www.chicagolandec.org.
     About the Motorola Foundation
     The Motorola Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic
 arm of Motorola. With 70,000 employees globally, Motorola seeks to benefit
 the communities where it operates. The company achieves this by making
 strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships, fostering
 innovation and engaging stakeholders. The Motorola Foundation focuses its
 funding on education, especially science, technology, engineering and math
 (STEM) programming. For more information, on Motorola Corporate and
 Foundation giving, visit http://www.motorola.com/giving.
     About the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
     The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Inc., founded in
 1987 and based in New York City, is an international nonprofit organization
 that introduces low-income young people to the world of business and
 entrepreneurship by teaching them how to develop and operate their own
 legitimate small businesses. Since its inception, NFTE has reached almost
 120,000 students. For more information, visit http://www.nfte.com.
 
 

SOURCE Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

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