Intro by: Sylvia McKinney, NFTE Philadelphia  Executive Director
NFTE Philadelphia is busy getting back into the routine of school, but last year’s regional challenge winners are also busy. They’re prepping for next month’s NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge . Both young entrepreneurs who will represent the Philadelphia program office, Raleigh Russell and Dominique Hughes, share their paths to success.
From: Raleigh Russell
Honestly, I really was not interested in business until I enrolled in a business class at my high school. I thought that NFTE stood for National Fitness Training Exercise program. Wow, was I surprised on my first day of class. Not only do I now know what NFTE stands for, I also – and more importantly – know how to start a business. This would not have been possible without my enthusiastic teacher, Korie Muscolino. I am very glad that I choose this course, because I know now that it will benefit me in the future.
I decided on a business after I went to New York City on a business trip funded by NFTE. The main focus of the trip was to purchase wholesale products and sell such products at school. While I was in New York, I noticed Zodiac Bands and Slap Watches, bendable bands with a watch face that can be customized. I was fascinated by them and purchased 180 with my partner Stephan Johnson. At our school’s selling event, we sold them all in three hours. By doing this, I caught the bug and the idea to develop a business plan, and I knew I would enter the regional competition.
I shared my plans with my teacher, who also encouraged me to help others, even when competing against them, because these networks can be of real value to you in the future. Ms. Muscolino required my classmates and me to present our business plans countless times and gave us all feedback. From all of the critiquing from my classmates and her, I worked hard to correct errors and figured out how to improve my presentation.
When I won first place in the regional competition, I felt amazing. My parents and grandparents, even my little sister, are proud of me. I know that all of that hard work paid off. The volunteers make this a phenomenal experience. Without their help, I know that I would not be where I am today. Everyone that has helped me to get where I am today inspires me to give back too. I am ready to compete at the October 11 national competition in New York City! Check out my Elevator Pitch Video at www.elevatorpitch2012.com  and vote for me!
From: Dominique Hughes, CEO, Center of Attraction Traveling Salon
For me, choosing the entrepreneurship course at my school was like picking a wonderful surprise out of a hat with a colorful blindfold on. I didn't put much thought into the decision when I decided to take the course. I knew little about what it took to be an entrepreneur. I never thought about starting my own company.&n