Top Two Businesses in Washington Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Will Go to Nationals

The finalists were in top pitching form at the W Hotel Washington DC the evening of May 29 as they vied for the title of NFTE Washington DC Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Winner.

These young innovators pitched their business ideas to a distinguished panel of judges, J. Randall Baugh, Director, Consumer Compliance, E*TRADE, Eric Hurley, CEO of Hurley and Associates, Inc, Diana Dibble, President/Chief Motivator and Co-Founder, Design to Delivery Inc., Jason C. Kahler, State Director – FBLA, Education Specialist – IT Cluster, Student and Assessment Services Career and College Readiness- Maryland State Department of Education and Greg Bateman, Managing Director, Federal Industry Ecosystem, Microsoft. It was an exciting night of pitching!

Meet the winners:

  • First place went to Oxon Hill High School seniors Sydney Avelino and Shemari French, founders of Say Cheese!, a business aimed at changing the way photos are taken. Their innovation provides software and hand sleeves that allow users to take photos from over 50 feet away with subtle movements of the hand.
  • Second place went to Wakefield High School junior, Ela Gokcigdem, founder of E-Pearl Technologies, a company that specializes in affordable tech products. E-Pearl’s first product is a set of rechargeable, noise canceling, secure fit headphones that are created for active consumers.
  • Oxon Hill High School junior Kennedy Penn and Oxon Hill senior Carlos Aranzana, founders of Lead Locator, took third place for a business idea for a user-friendly device that allows consumers to test the levels of lead in their water at home.

Sydney, Shemari and Ela will go on to represent Washington DC Metro at NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in New York City on October 16, 2019, and to compete for cash prizes.

The evening program, emceed by NFTE alums Jennifer Morales and Kathleen Cajolo, winners of the 2018 Washington Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The evening’s honorees included Mary Ellen McCormick of T. C. Williams High School, who was named the winner of the Washington Metro Model Teacher Challenge. McCormick will now advance to the national finals is the Model Teacher Challenge.

Also honored were the Washington Metro Volunteers of the Year. Phil McNeil of Farragut Capital Partners was recognized as NFTE Washington Metro Volunteer of the YearE*TRADE was recognized as NFTE Washington Metro Corporate Volunteer of the Year. Both award-winners have demonstrated a deep commitment to volunteerism and supporting NFTE students.

The NFTE Washington Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY and Mastercard with additional support from Citi Foundation, and Microsoft. Thank you to our judges, volunteers, and partners for their time, talent, and support, and to our community of teachers who nurtured their students’ ideas and entrepreneurial mindset.

Congratulations to all the talented students who competed this year and our stellar young entrepreneurs who are moving on to the nationals!

Follow your region’s young entrepreneurs on the road to nationals and scope out the competition – winner takes all in NYC this October!