See our competition winners interviewed on the Business Show on NECN.
BUILD Boston’s 5th annual Youth Business Plan Competition was held June 4th at Suffolk University and the Omni Parker Hotel in Boston. The competition marked the culmination of a year of hard work by more than 120 ninth graders and their mentors. Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the City of Boston, was keynote speaker for the event.
Out of the five teams that competed in the final round, the winning idea was Aroma Squeeze, a fragrance-infused stress ball made by seven freshmen from Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) in Dorchester. The seven students who comprise Aroma Squeeze have taken a year-long Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at CASH. Nusy Hassan, who teaches the BUILD class, said, “These young people not only learned about entrepreneurship and how to pitch a business plan, they also learned how to believe in themselves and their ideas.” The students also meet after school weekly during the school year with their two mentors, Amy Choi, a Director at Silicon Valley Bank, and Oleg Kritsky, Research Analyst at MIT.
L to R: Roy Hirshland, CEO of T3 and BUILD Boston Board Chair; Ayele Shakur, BUILD Boston Regional Executive Director; Nusy Hassan, Teacher, Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH); CASH students: Azayla, Jeysaun, Saunyette, Cristian, Kimberlee; Mentor Amy Choi, Director at Silicon Valley Bank and BUILD Boston Board Member; and Mentor Oleg Kritsky, Research Technician, MIT.
Twenty-two teams competed to see which five businesses would advance to the final round. Students represented the five schools where BUILD offers its entrepreneurship program: Charlestown High School, Another Course to College, Community Academy of Science and Health, the Jeremiah E. Burke High School and Dearborn STEM Academy. In the final round, students pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of judges in the hopes of winning up to $1,000 of prize money for first place.
The Final Round judges included; Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Rooney; Goodwin Procter Chairman Emeritus Regina Pisa; Boston Globe Business Columnist Shirley Leung; Urban Update Host/ El Mundo Publisher Alberto Vasallo; Glasswing Managing Partner Ventures Rudina Seseri; Boston Harbor Angels President Mic Williams; Catalyst Ventures President Daryl Settles; Boston Business Journal Publisher Carolyn Jones; Holland and Knight LLP Executive Partner Steven Wright; and East Boston Savings Bank President and CEO Richard Gavegnano.
BUILD Board Chair, Roy Hirshland, CEO of T3 Advisors, presented the big checks to the winning teams. “I know how life-changing entrepreneurship has been in my life, so I am thrilled to see so many Boston high school students get all this experience at such an early age,” Hirshland said. “It is very exciting to be involved in changing the trajectory of young people’s lives. I am so proud of what these kids accomplished today and during the past year.”
Programs like BUILD remind us of what entrepreneurship is truly about; the ability to believe in a dream and turn it into a reality. The Aroma Squeeze team is a testament to what young people can achieve if they persevere and have a network of supportive, caring adults.
BUILD is a four-year program that uses entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities and equip them for high school, college and career success. The organization matches teams of high school students with mentors who help them develop ideas and business plans for viable, marketable products. One team has earned more than $30,000. Students retain all the profits of their businesses.
BUILD Boston is part of a national organization that was founded in 1999 and serves 1,500 students annually in California, Washington DC, Boston and, opening this fall, New York City. BUILD Boston serves 250 students. For information in how you can get involved, email Anna Wang at [email protected]