Friday, May 9, 2014

Pitches Pay Off at YEA! Investor Panel

Five high school students from the Tacoma-Pierce County area pitched their business ideas before a panel of five investors to compete for funding at the first Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel Presentation Event at Pacific Lutheran University.

The students presented before representatives from 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 gain funding for their original ideas- that could be the next big thing!

About 40 people attended the event, held inside the Regency Room on PLU Campus. This year’s YEA! class is comprised of public students from Tacoma Public Schools and Bellarmine Prep. The Investor Panel Event is one of the program’s three “big events” that take place over the duration of the program.

On Wednesday night, the Investor Panel donated monetary contributions as well as their support and encouragement in their belief that entrepreneurs can make a job—not just take a job—at any age.

The investor panel consisted of the following business professionals:

Mitch Anderson, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Gary Brackett, Business & Political Manager, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and TacomaAngel Network Coordinator
Beth Delmore, Senior Financial Services Representative, Opus Bank
Skip Haynes, Chairman, Rainier Connect
Heather Joy, Manager, Spaceworks Tacoma & Small Business Owner of HOLDstudios

The funds were divided and allocated accordingly to businesses that the investors felt had a well thought out plan and an idea that had a good chance at success

The investments were as follows:

•    Teen Tech Tutors, providing one-on-one technology support services to the community, especially the elderly or otherwise challenged, received $1,000. Owner Sam Wheelock is a freshman at Stadium High School.

•    Sunny Beginnings, producing fresh, individually-jarred breakfast muffin and oatmeal mixes that make creating a homemade breakfast easier, received $1,000. Owner Jessica Bokoskie is a senior at Mount Tahoma High School.

•    Portz, would produce athletic shoes that incorporates sewn-in ankle braces which stabilizes the ankle and helps prevent injury, received $500. Owners are LaMondtra Atkins, a junior at Stadium High School and Arthur Hagen, a senior at Lincoln High School.

•    Shout!, would produce a consumer app that allows its users the benefit of receiving feedback about their daily outfits and current fashion trends, received $400. Owner Gracie Weiss is a freshman at Bellarmine Prep.

Also at the event were two businesses that are still in the research and development process:

•    The Art of Memories, would provide customized memory books featuring personalized portrait and stylized drawings from the artists/owners that are tailored to each individual clients’ needs. Owners are Madison Chavez, a junior at Tacoma School of the Arts and Lyric Swanson, a senior at Mt. Tahoma High School.

•    Re’Ussu, a customized clothing company that specializes in T-shirts and hoodies, providing each client with a piece of fashion they think of as their own. Owner Cyrus Singleton is a senior at Lincoln High School.

Students will now begin marketing and selling their products and services, and preparing for the YEA! Trade Show to showcase their goods to the general public.  The Trade Show will be held on June 1, 2014 at the South Tacoma Farmer’s Market held at the STAR Center.  This event is free and open to the public.

Pictured (l. to r.): Jessica Bokoskie, Sam Wheelock, Madison Chavez, Gracie Weiss, Cyrus Singleton, Lyric Swanson, Arthur Hagen and LaMondtra Atkins.

About the Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy or YEA!?, is a groundbreaking educational program that takes students in grades six through twelve 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 much more!

By the end of the class, students own and operate fully functioning businesses that can be carried on after graduation. Students learn to make a job--not just take a job! YEA!’s? direct mission is to help students embrace their passion, energy, creativity and talents, launch a venture, and view entrepreneurship as synonymous with success and freedom.

In 2008, YEA!? “spun-off” from the University of Rochester, where it was formed in 2004 with support from the Kauffman Foundation, to create its own not-for-profit corporation, YEA! Inc., which is currently launching sites in colleges, universities and high schools across the country to provide comprehensive, exciting entrepreneurship education, leadership development and innovation training to youth between the ages of 11 and 18 years old in the United States thereby making the program available to students at a variety of geographical regions, and providing them with skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century.

For more information about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, please call 253.682.1726 or visit

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