|Steven Gordon presenting his business plan at the 2010 OppenheimerFunds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge|
I don’t know how I can express my appreciation for NFTE anymore than I have. They have given me the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship inside and out, meet influential entrepreneurs, and trained me how to be my own CEO.
I am Steven Gordon, CEO of TattooID, and on October 5th, 2010 I was able to participate in the 2010 OppenheimerFunds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in New York City. It was an experience, a chance, and a dream which I am grateful to have had. Luck for me I didn’t have to travel too far, being from Brooklyn, but the hotel we stayed in was very impressive, offering views of the world-famous Times Square!
All 32 students arrived the day before from all over the country and I got a chance to meet most of them which was really great. These are kids who all have the passion, the drive, and the plan to make an impact by using their businesses. Really, how many teenagers do you know that can call themselves CEOs? Not too many. Bringing all these people together filled the air with a positive energy that was both inspirational and motivational.
It was still a competition though and we were all there to present our business plans with the hopes to advance in each round. After the first round the original group of 32 was cut down to 12 semi-finalists. Luckily, I was one of them. When it came to the second round though, I unfortunately was unable to advance. I was proud to see that my fellow New Yorker, Nia Froome, made it to the finals and was even happier to see that she ended up winning the whole competition in the end. Go New York!
Now even though I did not make it to the finals, I did find out that evening that I had won the NFTE Elevator Pitch Challenge 2010, presented by E*TRADE Bank, which took place three weeks leading up to the competition. I had campaigned in every way I could think of, including bringing a laptop into my 500 person college lecture and passing it around so that everyone could vote. I cannot take all the credit though because if it wasn’t for all of my friends, mentors, supporters, and even customers that helped spread the word to their networks I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I am forever grateful for that support.
Three days after the competition I was notified that I would be going to Washington DC to meet with the President of the United States of America (initially it was just the four finalists of the competition)! It was such a rush and I felt as if the television came to life when they opened the door to the Oval Office. President Obama is a really impressive man and he has the presence of a god. The girls were all giggling when he made a remark, but he really read up on us and gave us the chance to explain our ideas! Plus, we got Presidential M&Ms as a souvenir. The only word to describe the experience: EPIC. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you in the future Mr. President!