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