Teen Entrepreneurs From Chicago's South Side Brave 'Shark Tank'-Like Competition and Vie for $30,000 in Prizes

May 06, 2010, 12:15 ET from Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

The Honorable Richard M. Daley kicks off the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center's Future Founders program student business plan competition at ESPN Zone

CHICAGO, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students from five South Side high schools participated in a thrilling business plan competition today as a capstone to their experiential study of entrepreneurship, and showcased their inventive plans to launch new products and services as promising, young entrepreneurs. The 'Shark Tank' style competition, hosted by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) at ESPN Zone, culminated with students being recognized for their recently opened or soon-to-open businesses by a panel of local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

During the past nine months, 160 students from ACE Technical Charter High School, Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Global Visions Academy, and the School of Entrepreneurship at the South Shore Campus received insight on creating and running businesses of their own.  Over 100 Chicagoland entrepreneurs mentored these students individually as they developed their business plans and opened their businesses.

For the second year in a row, Mayor Richard M. Daley attended the competition and said this of the Future Founders program, "I believe in the young talent in this city. I encourage the students today to take advantage of this great experience that has been provided to you through Future Founders. Programs like this are important because they inspire and encourage entrepreneurship in the City of Chicago."

"Future Founders provides students with an opportunity to ensure their successful futures. We are enabling our students to develop an entrepreneurial toolkit that they can use throughout their careers," said CEC Managing Director, Scott Issen. "After all, entrepreneurship is the economic engine of our economy. It is through entrepreneurs, like our students, that we will recover from the recession."

This year's competition showcased plans for recently opened or soon-to-open businesses. After presenting to their peers, teachers, mentors, and an esteemed panel of judges, the 2010 Future Founders honorees are:

  • 1st Place:  Morgan Brock from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy – FBC Manufacturing, Inc., a patented washcloth design that prevents waste and saves people money by securing the bar of soap to a washcloth
  • 2nd Place:  Ryan Lewis from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy – Jeff Dranks, an all-natural lemonade beverage, made from a secret family recipe, that's marketed towards today's teens
  • 3rd Place:  Marcella Liggins and Christopher Turnbo from Chicago Vocational Career Academy – Universal Bluetooth Hearing Aids, a hearing aid with a built-in Bluetooth device allowing the hearing-impaired to talk hands-free
  • 4th Place:  Samantha Kitchens from ACE Technical Charter High School – Little Dreamers, provides getaway services for the busy parents looking for a vacation and daycare services
  • Audience Favorite with Text-to-Vote Powered by Opt It:  Ryan Lewis from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy – Jeff Dranks, an all-natural lemonade beverage, made from a secret family recipe, that's marketed towards today's teens

"Future Founders taught me how to succeed in the business world," said Morgan Brock, founder of FBC Manufacturing, Inc., and the 2010 first place winner.  "The program changed my mind on what career field I want to pursue. At first, I wanted to become a pharmacist, but now I want to become an entrepreneur."

This year, the CEC recognized its top volunteers during the business plan competition's awards ceremony. Additionally, Meagan Sims of Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy was recognized with the Josie J. Dunnett "Live Your Dreams" Scholarship Award in memory of the late Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce employee, Josie Dunnett.

Future Founders Champion Award Winners

  • Kevin Adler, President and Chief Engagement Officer, Engage Marketing
  • Julie Portelli, Financial Analyst, Harris Bank
  • Rus Van Gorp, Financial Analyst, Harris Bank

Future Founders Rookie of the Year Award Winners

  • Bob Hoyler, President & CEO, Municipal Media Solutions, LLC
  • Denise Maple, Founder, VaVaVroom
  • Hillis Pugh, Founder, Smart Barterer
  • Nick Sarillo, Founder and CEO, Nick's Pizza & Pub
  • Shawn Pucylowski, Co-Founder, Flex Lighting
  • Talayah Stovall, President, TGrace

Sponsored by the Motorola Foundation, AT&T, Ford Motor Company Fund, Harris Bank, Smart Bet Charity and Microsoft, the CEC's Future Founders program consists of mentoring and specialized activities, which complement curriculum developed by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Future Founders provides students with the opportunity to learn the public speaking, presentation, technology, and financial literacy skills needed to create and grow a business.

In total, $30,000 in prizes was awarded to students, including over $10,000 in scholarships to the Future Founders Academy, an experiential entrepreneurship camp that will take place in June.

The CEC, Motorola Foundation and NFTE launched the Future Founders program in 2005 to expose students to careers in entrepreneurship and foster entrepreneurial skills. In its first five years, 500 motivated high school students from 10 underserved neighborhoods have had the opportunity to learn about and experience entrepreneurship from some of the city's most successful entrepreneurs. For more information about the Future Founders program or to become a mentor, visit www.chicagolandec.org/futurefounders.

About the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) works at the intersection of business success and civic engagement. It identifies the region's most promising entrepreneurs and helps them build high-growth, sustainable businesses that serve as platforms for economic development and civic leadership for the Chicagoland area. Since 2003, the CEC has helped our client entrepreneurs secure $229 million in revenue, raise $130.5 million in financing, and create or retain nearly 6,000 jobs. In turn, CEC clients fuel the entrepreneurial ecosystem of our city by mentoring young talent, advising their peers, and joining the CEC "movement" to inspire entrepreneurship in Chicagoland.  The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center is an affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. To learn more visit www.chicagolandec.org.

Contact: Scott Issen 312-494-6734


SOURCE Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center