Over the last eight weeks, middle- and high-school students across the country participated in “Shark Tank”-style pitch competitions, presenting business plans to panels of elite judges in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge series, a sequence of regional pitch competitions that determine the top young entrepreneurs who qualify to enter NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The 33 winners announced today have already earned cash prizes ranging from $300 to $1,500 by outpitching other entrepreneurship students in their regions. Now they’ll have a chance to represent their home regions in a high-stakes national competition this fall. Top-scoring winners in the regional competition series advance to NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, which will be held in mid-October. During the national competition, regional winners will compete against each other and also go head to head with top young entrepreneurs from NFTE’s global programs, all vying for a share of a prize pool worth $18,000.
Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) was the presenting sponsor of this spring’s NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge regional competition series. Mary Kay and Microsoft were associate sponsors. Additional sponsors included Citi Foundation, Mastercard, Slalom and Santander. Together, Citi Foundation and EY US will co-present the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge this fall.
The winners who will be advancing to the next level of competition are listed below, with short descriptions of their businesses. They’re grouped by geographic region.
Bay Area winners
- Lauren Young and Jasmine Liberona – Abraham Lincoln High School, San Francisco, California
Aphrodite is a healthier, more wholesome deodorant that is more beneficial for people and the planet.
- Dina Wu – GOAT23 Fellowship Program, San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco, California
Weeding Bot is an artificial intelligence robot that can replace traditional hand-weeding. It has a database to identify plant species and is solar-powered and waterproof, so it can work in any weather.
Baltimore Metro Area winners
- Amber Richardson – Francis Scott Key Elementary Middle School, Baltimore, Maryland
B Buddies Not Bullies aims to provide young people with the opportunity to broach the topic of bullying with adults and peers through engaging storytelling.
- Julia Tollini and Sage Kolbrecki – Francis Scott Key Elementary Middle School, Baltimore, Maryland
FIREfly is an easy-to-use website where young people can learn about mental health and chat with other kids. The website provides resources for parents who want to help their children.
Chicago Metro/Midwest Region winners
- Madelyn Jackson – Holy Trinity High School, Chicago, Illinois
P.A.C.A. is a personalized autism communication app that helps caregivers communicate with their children more seamlessly.
- Sabrina Soto – Aspira Business and Finance, Chicago, Illinois
EPOCH is a substance abuse support app that allows users to contact sponsors, friends, family or, in more severe cases, emergency services with the touch of a button when they find themselves in crisis.
- Ayanna Robinson – Benson High School, Omaha, Nebraska
Naturally Gorgeous helps people with natural, curly hair maintain and style their hair, offering a natural hairstyling service in a convenient location and creating a friendly community space.
- Emily Ortiz – OKC Cristo Rey, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
R&M Pet Spray helps fight odor and bacteria in pets.
Washington, DC Metro Area winners
- James Dawkins – Oxon Hill High School, Oxon Hill, Maryland
Hawkeye uses eye tracking technology to improve the effectiveness of distance learning for children and their parents.
- Abigail McCall and Maureen Keating – Falls Church High School, Falls Church, Virginia
iKick tracks game statistics and captures game footage in the soccer industry through a tracking device inside soccer balls.
Los Angeles Metro Area winners
- Jubilee Gutierrez – Florence Nightingale Middle School, Los Angeles, California
Polyccine is a less invasive, more cost-effective and efficient way of administering vaccines with prefilled, color-coated syringes that lower the risk of vaccination error.
- Emely Garcia – Florence Nightingale Middle School, Los Angeles, California
Vibe creates innovative clothing for the hearing-impaired so that everyone can feel the music.
- Amylah Charles – Los Angeles Urban League, Los Angeles, California
CurlyCrownz provides 100% natural products for curls, beard, scalp, locks and waves.
- Hanna Corona – Florence Nightingale Middle School, Los Angeles, California
Gumbee is a pack of biodegradable gum, with 15 pieces per pack, that has seeds embedded in each piece to help grow plants on roadsides, parks, etc.
New England winners
- Anthony Wilds – The Met, Providence, Rhode Island
HotBandz are gloves and socks warmed by a rechargeable lithium cell battery for winter sports enthusiasts; people who work outdoors; or have Raynaud’s syndrome, arthritis or circulation issues.
- Carissa Lombardi – The Met, Providence, Rhode Island
Legislation Navigation is an app that translates legislative language for laypeople and also collects valuable voter information for lobbyists and legislators.
New York Metro Area winners
- Kalvin Moise – Business of Sports School, New York, New York
New York Boxing and Disciplinary Academy teaches youth the fundamentals of boxing and discipline in order to keep them off the streets and help them live long, successful lives.
- Madelynn and Gwendolyn Oh – Academy of Finance and Enterprise, Queens, New York
Lanes is a service app that provides bikers with safer directions when cycling on public streets.
- Karissa Rodriguez – Perth Amboy High School, Perth Amboy, New Jersey (member of a school-based Jewish Renaissance Foundation program)
Sidekick is an app that provides a sidekick for someone who has experienced domestic violence/abuse or sexual assault and may need mental, physical and financial help as a result.
North Texas winners
- Jackson Villanueva and Ethan Weng – School for the Highly Gifted, Grand Prairie, Texas
H-Restrooms is an app that shows you ratings and reviews of public restrooms near you. It also allows you to see photos, get directions, and receive education on staying clean and healthy.
- Stacy Cisneros – Bryan Adams High School, Dallas, Texas
Cisneros Bright, Inc. makes toothpaste drops in containers that hold 60 drops. One drop is the perfect amount with which to brush your teeth, and subscription customers can refill their containers.
- Diana Gonzalez and Isabel Hernandez – Bryan Adams High School, Dallas, Texas
Queen Shield Enterprises is a fist-sized, self-defense keychain that contains three different gadgets: pepper spray, a window breaker and a sound alarm.
Philadelphia Metro Area winners
- Leviticus Smith – Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Spray and Create is a space to engage in digital graffiti painting with no mess or toxic fumes.
- Shawn Moorefield – Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
SJ Cares provides care packages to people in need and those suffering from homelessness.
- Kaise Tinglin and Sashary Acosta – Palm Beach Gardens High School, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Impact is a volunteering app that offers high school students in the South Florida region information about service opportunities through schools and community organizations.
- Natalie Zanudo – North Rowan High School, Rowan, North Carolina
Candor Skin is a family-owned, handmade, eco-friendly and gentle skin care line that incentivizes recycling and donates a percentage of profits to philanthropic efforts.
- Hailey Tucker – Flagler Palm Coast High School, Palm Coast, Florida
Custom F.C. guarantees athletes the perfect fit, function, and performance with custom-designed and custom-fit cleats. It prevents injuries, prevents time lost searching for the perfect cleat, and eliminates the need for extra insoles and socks.
- Sulianne Mera – McArthur High School, Hollywood, Florida
Handibandi is a new and improved hair tie that can be tied with only one hand. It aims to empower those with injuries or differing abilities with a sense of independence and normalcy.
- Angelena Markova – Osceola Fundamental High School, Osceola, Florida
Landport is an app to help people navigate airports. An interactive map with GPS functions guides users, creating a stress-free travel environment and improving people’s airport experience.
- Stefany Gonzalez – Kiran Patel High School, Tampa, Florida
Old Havana is a food truck that will bring a quality, authentic experience of Cuban food and culture to the Tampa region.
- Sophia Lynch – Holmes Braddock Senior High School, Miami, Florida
Universal Respite Childcare is a new approach to hourly childcare, with a mobile app that allows you to schedule last-minute drop-offs, note a child’s allergies or special needs, and much more.
St. Louis Metro Area winners
- Nehtia Hazelwood – Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Nervy Beauty is a fashion and accessories business that helps boost the self-confidence of girls and women by celebrating unique names and cultures. It also donates to charitable organizations.
- De’Mea White and Kira Miller – Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Ms. Curvyy is an inclusive company that motivates, empowers and inspires teen girls to embrace their beauty. Each Ms. Curvyy package comes with apparel, cosmetics, accessories and more.
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 70,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 12 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-school, college, and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit www.nfte.com.
Joanne Lessner/Lambert & Co.
Brenda Duong/Lambert & Co.