DC Area Students Split $3000 in Business Pitch Competition

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NFTE Washington Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge winners advance to national championship in September

In the current uncertain climate, young people are realizing more than ever that entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for personal empowerment. – Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO, NFTE

Schools may be closed, but that didn’t stop these highly motivated young entrepreneurs from refining their business plans and preparing their pitches for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) DC Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Despite logistical obstacles stemming from the pandemic, this annual competition, the culmination of NFTE’s yearlong entrepreneurship curriculum, took place on time—and online. Participating students presented their original business ideas by video to a panel of esteemed judges, who named three winners. The first and second place winners, who will receive $1500 and $1000, respectively, advance to NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in September, where they will compete for a grand prize of $12,000. The third-place winner will receive $500.

  • 1st Place: Justin Graves, 17 from Oxon Hill High School, won with a business pitch for RolTech, which combines the fashion of watches and the function of phones with for affordable wearable technology.
  • 2nd Place: Rachel Hirz, 17, from Falls Church High School, won with her pitch for Keeper of the Keys, customized handmade keychains.
  • 3rd Place: Julia Tan, 16, from Falls Church High School, won with a pitch for District Helper, which provides parents with an easy way to hire service providers at a reasonable rate.

Separately, Justin Davis, 17, was awarded $1200 in NFTE DC Metro’s Entrepreneurship 2 (E2) competition for Rope-a-Friend, which uses matching software in an all-inclusive app to match users with one another. The winner of this competition has the opportunity to apply for NFTE’s Alumni Investor Forum, which is scheduled for spring 2021. Six winning E2 businesses from across the country will be selected to participate in that event and will compete for further investment funds. Second place went to Annika Pierre Michel, 17, won $1000 for Glacier, which designs a minimalist box lifestyle using existing buildings and Jaire Aton, 18, received $800 as Runner-Up for Giveback, a non-profit sharing app that connects people in need of essential supplies during COVID-19 with those who wish to donate. All three attend Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School.

“In the current uncertain climate, young people are realizing more than ever that entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for personal empowerment,” said NFTE president and CEO, Dr. J.D. LaRock. “Employers look for candidates with an entrepreneurial mindset, which the NFTE curriculum fosters. Whether or not they ultimately run their own companies, our students are being set up to succeed, and we are eager to support their endeavors.”

Student business pitches were judged by a panel of experts that included:

  • Philip Auerswald, The Hultz Prize, George Mason University
  • Mark Esposito, EY
  • John Hasenberg, Hasenberg Hartsock Company
  • Jada Nicome, Bunker Labs
  • W. Bryan Simmons, E*TRADE

The NFTE DC Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY, Mastercard and Intuit, with additional support from Citi Foundation and Microsoft.

About NFTE
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in young people from under-resourced communities. Reaching more than 100,000 middle and high school students annually, NFTE works with schools and community partners in 25 U.S. states and 10 countries around the world. Leveraging classroom teachers and volunteers from top-tier companies, NFTE’s research-based model teaches students how to identify a business opportunity and launch a business; helps them learn about the range of jobs and occupations available to them; and develops their “entrepreneurial mindset” — a set of skills including creativity, adaptability, communication, and collaboration that leads to success in any career. Since 1987, NFTE has educated 1.2 million young people worldwide, helping thousands launch businesses and companies of all sizes. Learn more at nfte.com.

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